An Interview Of S. Awan.

By Jerry Alatalo

r. S. Awan, editor of The Burning Blogger of Bedlam here on WordPress, has kindly accepted an invitation to participate in our new interview series. Thank you Mr. Awan for taking the time and sharing your insights in response to our interview questionnaire, presented in the following words.

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Question 1: What was your primary motivation for entering the world of blogging – the internet?

Oddly enough, when I started my main blog, it was just for fun. I had no intention whatsoever of writing about serious, grown-up subjects, politics, society, corruption, cover-ups or any kind of ‘truth-seeking’. I had no kind of ‘noble’ intentions. I originally just wanted to write about music, film, comic books and stuff that I’ve been enthusiastic about all my life. I also wrote a magazine column for a while about the supernatural and the more esoteric side of things, so this kind of stuff was what I had in mind for blogging.

What happened was that the world started to feel like it was falling apart just around the same I time I was trying to find my feet with the blogging. The refugee/migrant crisis was escalating, the horrors in Syria were unfolding, a very toxic atmosphere was spreading all across the Internet (and society) with a resurgence of really bad ideologies, and with all manner of rampant corruption and cover-ups going on in plain sight. There was also a sense that a whole sea of misinformation, propaganda and manipulation was going on all over the place – not just in the mainstream, but in various parts of so-called ‘alternative’ media too. And that there was a growing absence of good intentions in most of this, but rather a web of different interests and biases utilising the alternative media momentum and general ‘truth-seeking movement’ (if I can call it that) for their own purposes in order to advance their own agendas and to recruit people to their own ideologies and biases.

I was thus drawn instinctively to start trying to navigate and make sense of all these things, trying to make honest appraisals from the perspective of someone who considers himself largely non-partisan.

Early on, the main thing that really got me working hard was the manufactured ‘terror’ threat and the business of false-flag terrorism. I made it a goal to critically analyse every single alleged terror incident in the West as soon as it happened, so that I could play some small part in undermining the false narrative (and its objectives) as relentlessly as possible.

I guess the motivation now is just to continue to try to make sense of everything as it continues to evolve, spiral or degenerate.

Question 2: How would you describe yourself with regard to spirituality?

I would regard myself as a fairly spiritual person, in as much as that I am open to and interested in various spiritual philosophies and schools of thought.

I think a spiritual dimension to our understanding of life, the world and even politics and society, is important: though, admittedly, I’m more comfortable sticking to the meat-and-potatoes of ‘mundane’, non-esoteric things when it comes to writing these days. This is, I guess, because I will always consider my ‘spiritual’ understanding or authority as a work-in-progress and therefore not something I feel I can speak of definitively.

However, I believe – without doubt anymore – that we are partly spiritual or metaphysical beings, probably with a form of multi-dimensional consciousness. I think time is also something we don’t really understand and that there is some profound connection between time and consciousness that we haven’t figured out yet – and probably will never figure out. I tend to think that the answers to some of this reside somewhere where we can’t effectively study them – specifically, in the still-mysterious realms of sleep states and non-waking consciousness.

That’s as far as I’m willing to go, as far as making statements is concerned: as I’m still on a seemingly unending quest to develop my own understanding. And until I do so to my own satisfaction, I probably shouldn’t permit myself to speak on such subjects with any kind of authority.

Question 3: What were some of the most memorable transforming points across the years (books, personal contacts, mystical experiences, etc.) in the developing of your current spiritual perspective?

It’s hard to say – as I’m not entirely settled on what my spiritual perspective is. However, there’s a bunch of stuff I can say here. Firstly, I’ve had a number of what I would call ‘anomalous’ experiences in my life that have opened me up to the necessity of needing to think about life in different terms. I don’t really want to go into detail about what those experiences were, but they were experiences that definitely force you to get outside of boxed or mundane thinking.

I’ve generally also always been partial to deep thinking and to contemplation of the nature of consciousness and reality. A life-long attachment to science-fiction and comic books has also, believe it or not, made me naturally inclined towards those kinds of considerations. I can’t pinpoint anything to any specific books, but I do think reading Rene Descartes (the philosopher) when I was a teenager probably influenced me a little.

Most of my spiritual perspective has probably come from my own meditations or attempts at self-conditioning over the years. I also, for a period a while ago, conditioned myself to enter into extended periods of what I’m calling ‘hyper awareness’: to explain this better, I basically trained my mind to go into phases where I scrutinise or analyse every single thing I see, hear, think or feel, in order to understand the nature or reality of that thing in a hyper-aware sort of way. It’s extraordinary the knock-on effects this has if you do it often enough. It really trains you to be cognitively ‘alive’ in the moment – whereas I realised that we usually spend most of our days switched off and in a kind of default-mode that takes in reality only very dimly. The drawback with what I’m explaining is that you can’t really do it continuously or all the time, as it doesn’t lend itself to living an efficient, functional everyday life – but even doing this just periodically can have a very interesting effect on your consciousness.

I’ve found that the more cognitively hyper-aware you are at any time, the more you also become aware of yourself and others emotionally, and also the more you become acutely aware of things are connected in different ways, spiritually, energetically, temporally, etc. In that kind of state, you’re more likely to be able to instinctively see, feel or understand the ‘truth’ of a thing – or the truth of many things all at once.

I sort of wish I could maintain that kind of state of consciousness continuously – but it’s just not possible, as far as I can tell.

Question 4: What is your greatest wish for readers as a consequence after reading/considering your writings?

I guess it varies, depending on what any given article is about.

For example, one of the things I was really adamant about at one time was convincing people who were perhaps hostile towards refugees that things like compassion or our moral responsibility as human beings and developed societies shouldn’t be considered somehow as ‘outmoded’ thinking. Judging from much of the response to those articles, I probably failed to convince anyone; but it has become evident to me over the years that much of ‘conspiracy theory’ writing or blogging has moved from being about exposing truth to being about giving people justifications to no longer have any compassion for anyone but people like themselves, and to indulge in racism, sexism, homophobia or also a weird kind of religiously motivated ‘conspiracy’ lore that is really just about a specific school of confirmation bias and indoctrination.

In writing about how, for example, neo-fascists were cleverly utilising things like the refugee crisis and the fear of ‘ISIS’ to indoctrinate people into adopting Far-Right viewpoints, I wanted to wake certain people up to the reality that they were being manipulated. Likewise, in writing extensively about Zionist manipulation of Western ‘populism’ or nationalism and its manipulation of Islamophobia, I wanted to demonstrate to more people just how much the so-called ‘alternative media’ or supposedly ‘anti-establishment’ trends and platforms were being co-opted and redirected from what was initially a broadly ‘truth-seeking’ operation to what became instead an indoctrination operation.

In general terms, I guess I want to encourage people to think critically *all* of the time – and to not defer their critical thinking to other parties or agendas, whether that’s in the corporate mainstream media or in some of the highly suspect elements of so-called ‘alternative’ or ‘anti-establishment’ platforms. I really want people to break away from or stay clear of their biases or echo chambers. And to avoid being goaded into ‘camps’ based on sectarian, racial, religious, gender, or sexual biases. But to think, instead, about all of society – or even all of humanity.

Question 5: Can you offer any advice to people having a difficult time dealing with government and media lies, especially as it pertains to so many average citizens who hold erroneous perceptions on important events and situations around the Earth?

The best thing I can think to say is this: get out of the echo chambers. Get out of the camps. And this, most important of all – don’t make the mistake of thinking that anything labeled ‘anti establishment’ is automatically more reliable or noble than the MSM. Doesn’t work that way. Clever manipulators know that they have to move with the times and trends and keep reinventing and re-packaging the manipulations: clever manipulators therefore know how to use both the MSM and how to utilise the anti-MSM or anti-establishment movements and platforms.

My frustration is that too many people make the mistake of thinking that all you have to do is turn away from the MSM and then just defer your thinking to some popular, seemingly anti-establishment platforms or voices. That’s bullshit. That’s the dumbest path of all. Because some of the so-called anti-establishment platforms, movements or voices are far worse, far more manipulative, than the corporate MSM. What they do very well is to take elements of truth that the MSM won’t – and then to assimilate those ‘truths’ into a broader brainwashing agenda that has the style or appearance of genuine ‘truth-seeking’ or truth dissemination, but is really just the emperor’s new clothes.

My advice is to always question what someone’s agenda or bias is. Is the information being forwarded purely for its own sake (the sake of it being simply the truth), or is it being packaged along with an underlying ideology or agenda?

Also, I advise a broad range of news sources or information sources (both mainstream and non-mainstream). Never end up getting all your information from just one source or from just one common ideological network of sources. Keep a broad range.

And, crucially, find sources, writers or bloggers that you trust. And when I say ‘trust’, I mean trust in terms of their motivations, their intentions and their tone. Of course, in reality no writer or blogger is entirely without their own bias or some semblance of an ideological-leaning: but it is fairly easy to discern when someone is trying to manipulate you, poison your thinking, forward a cynical agenda, or simply misrepresent information.

Now, more than ever, we all need to have our critical faculties operating at maximum efficiency.

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Thank you again, S. Awan. Peace. 

 

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Moralizing International Politics.

(Originally posted at Transcend International)

Moralizing International Politics

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 4 Dec 2017

Dr. Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra – TRANSCEND Media Service

This article makes an appeal to bridge the chasm between the practice of international politics and the universal moral principles. Violation of moral principles has emerged a norm than exception in international politics. States and global institutions have proved ineffective to checkmate violent conflicts and wanton killings as in Syria. It is not they are incapable or lack resources. The problem lies elsewhere. Ego is a major cause behind much of the hazards in international politics. The article problematizes ego and calls for a broader thinking in international politics.  

Ban Ki-moon, the former head of the United Nations, expressed the frustration of our age. He lamented: “It should shame us all…the suffering of the Syrian people continues to plumb new depths … The international community, and in particular the Security Council, cannot afford to waste any further time in ending the cycle of violence… it is time to find an exit from this madness” (The United Nations 2015). Syria provides a stark example before us how states and global institutions have proved ineffective to ensure international peace and security. Within a span of six years since the crisis erupted, more than 400,000 people lost lives and unaccountable others uprooted. The powerful states in the United Nations flexed muscles over means to realize peace. Peace remained elusive.

One of the factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of the international community and its leaders is the technological-moral chasm. There has been rapid growth in technology, particularly the communication technology, but the thinking pattern has not witnessed parallel growth. The old primordial way of thinking has not changed. The archetypal thinking in terms of binaries – mine vs thine, us vs them, my group vs rival group – has not evolved over centuries though major changes appeared in the structure and organization of human living. This thinking has produced a paradox. In the midst of developed technology, globalization and discourses of a flat and borderless world, the states are engaged in re-bordering practices. Technology has been used to rigidify barriers – us vs them – through narrow visions of security. Both hard power and soft power are used to strengthen these binaries in thinking and practice.

Does seclusion/isolation help? Is an isolated state immune from insecurity beyond its borders? In this age of globalization, how would states ensure safety at home when there is violence outside? The global concerns such as terrorism, religious extremism and climate change transcend state borders. Isolation as a foreign policy strategy might have worked in the past, but in the contemporary world isolation implies invitation to more problems. A small happening in a small part of the globe can shape international developments. How would erecting barriers ensure security of one state while other states undergo violent crises? Does eerie calm imply peace? When minds are disturbed, security is fragile, peace is uneasy, when we have blatantly messed up with Nature, how would we ensure the survival of human race in the decades and centuries to come?

The states spend billions of dollars in building weapons, while vouching disarmament. States spent around 1686 billion US dollars on defense in 2016. Contrast this figure with another figure: from 2014 to 2016, about 795 million people in the world suffered from chronic undernourishment. Is it not a violation of human moral principle to invest billions in weapons to secure people and borders while people remain hungry?

Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo argued, like individuals, states have egos– amplified through national habits, prejudices and idiosyncrasies (Sri Aurobindo 1962). When applied to international politics, they lead to jingoism, exploitation and wars, leading to practices like colonialism and imperialism. Colonialism and imperialism, one of the worst forms of exploitation, have ended. However, they were only manifestation of an exploitative substructure. The root, the ego, is intact, and its manifestation has acquired new shapes. The Indian philosopher argued that state ego could evolve when state leaders think in terms of larger human unity and harmony. The establishment of the United Nations, after the failure of the League of Nations, was hailed as a right step in this direction. The UN was established with a promise to ensure dignity and equality to all states. Has this happened?

If the ultimate goal of human life is peace and security, then the theories of international politics have not fared well. Grand theorizing might provide a big picture and offer plausible explanations of developments, but they largely fail to account small developments at small places with big implications. Should not theories suggest ways to address state egos and its various avatars? Explaining developments in retrospect maybe useful as it offers insights for future action, but unless there is an active agenda to realize global peace, the theories would be limiting in their usefulness. Social science theories, dealing with human beings and their behaviors, stand in contrast to physical science theories, which deal with matter, mostly insentient. The post-behavioralism trend in political science that emerged in late 1960s due to ‘deep dissatisfaction in political research and teaching’ called for ‘new strategies in science’. David Easton in his presidential address at American Political Science Association in 1969 called for “the development of new norm of behavior” as the post-behavioral trend “sees policy engagement as a social responsibility of the intellectual…” He further agued, “Someday it may also require the release of the social scientist from bondage to the unique needs and objectives of his own national political system” (Easton 1969, 1061). The trend, however, petered out quickly. Now is the time to revive this trend.

Some theories suggest that the world has become a better place to live since inter-state wars have declined. Are we living in a more secure and peaceful world? What about wars within communities and states and their international ramifications? How does one define conflict in Syria – intrastate, interstate or both, or a more dangerous face of traditional rivalries? Thousands of fault lines along regions, religions, races, ethnicities have emerged. Even the threat of interstate wars with a nuclear angle cannot be undermined. The present crisis can be compared to a can of worms, with worms – multiple conflicts at various levels – continuously crawl out, in all shapes, sizes and colors and challenge individuals and states alike.

The dilemma over pleasure, happiness and peace was well depicted in the life of the Greek philosopher Diogenes. The philosopher asked the Emperor Alexander, who offered him all comforts of life, not to block sun light and that was all what he needed from him. With a lantern in his hand, Diogenes searched for an honest man. This act may defy rational understanding, but it contains a deeper message, which can help salvage humanity from the multiple crises. Pretensions, subterfuges, and other instruments meant for tangential gains bring hazards in its trail and harm the perpetrator. Gandhi’s caution rings true: “For one man cannot do right in one department of life whilst he is occupied in doing wrong in any other department. Life is one indivisible whole” (Gandhi 1969, 571).

A report titled, “Welcome to Miami, Massachusetts” claimed that if the greenhouse gas emission continues at the current rate, “… by 2100 Boston’s average summer-high temperatures will likely be more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than they are now, ‘making it feel as steamy as North Miami Beach is today’” (Annear 2014). A large iceberg of the size of Delaware broke off from an ice shelf in Antarctica in July 2017. According to a report, “global warming has pushed temperatures up to 5 degrees higher in the region since the 1950s and could increase up to 7 degrees more by the end of the century, putting more stress on the ice” (Rice 2017). Tony de Brum, the former Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for his role in Paris Climate agreement, died recently at the age of 72. Brum witnessed the ‘Bravo shot,’ the thermonuclear test at Bikini Atoll when he was 9 years old. He became a champion of nuclear disarmament and environment protection. Brum, whose island home went under waters due to rising ocean, argued, “The thought of evacuation is repulsive to us…We think that the more reasonable thing to do is to seek to end this madness, this climate madness, where people think that smaller, vulnerable countries are expendable and therefore they can continue to do business as usual” (The Guardian 2017). Gandhi’s ‘Nature has for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed’ provides a powerful message. Unless the very basic thinking of states and their leaders change, it will be difficult to moralize international politics.

Plato devised a scheme of governance in which the king, the modern equivalent of president/prime minister, must be a philosopher. The king must undergo decades of education to govern the state. The king and his class must rise above the notions of mine and thine, live a communal life, eat in common kitchen, transcend boundaries of family and group, and become free to dedicate his life to state. Applying the Platonic yardstick to modern day kings, leaders of modern states, may appear farfetched, but it provides a vision how a leader should govern a state.

For moralizing international politics, one state does not have to dominate or be dominated. Morality requires collective conscience and action. The states, through their leaders, need to develop an integral moral psychology that informs social, economic and political worlds as they interact and shape each other. Powerful states may provide leadership in this direction.

References:

Annear, Steve (2014) Welcome to Miami, Massachusetts. Boston Daily, July 11, http://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/blog/2014/07/11/climate-central-map-heat-boston-miami/, accessed 4 July 2017.

Easton, David (1969) The New Revolution in Political Science. The American Political Science Review; 63 (4):1051-1061.

Gandhi, Mahatma (1969) The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi Vol. 32. New Delhi: The Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.

Rice, Doyle (2017) Massive iceberg nearly the size of Delaware breaks off Antarctica. USA Today, 12 July, https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2017/07/12/massive-iceberg-breaks-off-antarctica/102637874/, accessed 4 July 2017.

Sri Aurobindo (1962) Human Cycle, the Ideal of Human Unity, War and Self-Determination. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

The Guardian (2017) Tony de Brum, champion of Paris climate agreement, dies aged 72, 23 August,https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/23/tony-de-brum-champion-of-paris-climate-agreement-dies-aged-72, accessed 24 August 2017.

The United Nations (2015) Statement by the Secretary-General on the Third Anniversary of the Geneva Communique on Syria.  30 June, http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/06/30/world/middleeast/ap-un-united-nations-syria.html, accessed 5 August 2017.

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Dr Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra is a member of the TRANSCEND Network, Director of the Mahatma Gandhi Center for Non-Violence, Human Rights and World Peace at Hindu University of America in Florida, and a Fellow at the Center for Peace, Democracy and Development, University of Massachusetts Boston. He is an Indian commentator and his areas of interest include conflict transformation and peacebuilding in South and Central Asia. His edited book Conflict and Peace in Eurasia was published by Routledge in 2013.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 4 Dec 2017.

Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source,TMS: Moralizing International Politics, is included. Thank you.

From Barak to Trump.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist, writer, peace activist, former member of the Knesset, and the founder of Gush Shalom.
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Its title was “Our Jerusalem”. It started with the words: “Jerusalem is ours, Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews.”

It went on: “Our Jerusalem Is a mosaic of all the cultures, all the religions and all the periods that enriched the city, from earliest antiquity to this very day – Canaanites and Jebusites and Israelites, Jews and Hellenes, Romans and Byzantines, Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Mamelukes, Othmanlis and Britons, Palestinians and Israelis.

“Our Jerusalem must be united, open to all, and belonging to all its inhabitants, without borders and barbed wire in its midst.”

And the practical conclusion: “Our Jerusalem must be the capital of the two states that will live side by side in this country – West Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel and East Jerusalem the capital of the State of Palestine.”

I wish I could nail this Manifesto to the doors of the White House.

HUMAN WRONGS WATCH

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery*

EHUD BARAK has “broken the silence”. He has published an article in The New York Times attacking our prime minister in the most abrasive terms.

397px-uriavnery-e1353140505941Uri Avnery

In other words, he has done exactly the same as the group of ex-soldiers who call themselves “Breaking the Silence”, who are accused of washing our dirty linen abroad. They expose war crimes to which they have been witnesses, or even participants.

But apart from the attack on Binyamin Netanyahu, Barak has used the article to publish his Peace Plan.

A former chief-of-staff of the Israeli army and a former prime minister, Barak is obviously planning a comeback, and his peace plan is part of the effort. There seems to be, anyhow, open season for Peace Plans in our region.

I respect the intelligence of Barak. Many years ago, when he was still the deputy…

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