Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Rule of Law, Free Markets, and Maintaining Order: A Sufi Perspective

Yesterday, I was provided with a link to an article entitled: ‘The Myth of the Rule of Law’ by John Hasnas, an associate professor at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.  I immediately ran off (virtually speaking) to read the article, and was happy to discover that the piece made a lot of great points ... at least about the rule of law issue.

Ultimately, however, I am not sure that I agree with some of his conclusions concerning the possibility of using a ‘free market’ approach to the idea of establishing order quite independently of the legalistic machinery of the state. This potential disagreement has nothing to do with a belief that the state ought to be ‘the decider’ when it comes to dealing with social interaction since I am fully in agreement with Professor Hasnas when it comes to recognizing the totally arbitrary and politically motivated desire for control which colors, shapes, and orients all legal decisions.

I do believe that ‘order’ should be negotiated by people and not imposed by the state or by a central form of governance. This is my perspective irrespective of whether the form of governance is religious, militaristic, corporate, or political in character.

One problem that I have with the notion of ‘free market’ solutions (and I realize that Hasnas is using the phrase in a much broader sense than in a purely economic manner) involves my concerns around the idea of ‘free market’ forces. More specifically, I believe that such a notion is as mythical as is the idea of the rule of law.

Freedom/liberty is rooted in inalienable rights. Inalienable rights exist prior to the existence of governance or any other form of social interaction.

Inalienable rights are a function of natural law. However, my approach to natural law is quite different from what traditionally is the case when people seek to justify the idea of natural law – namely, by rooting such law in Divine decree or in certain philosophical/scientific ideas concerning the nature of human beings.

I have my own perspective in relation to the nature of reality, Divinity, and life. Nonetheless, I also realize that I cannot impose that perspective on other people by proposing that everyone else should adopt my point of view … this would be very egocentric of me … as it would be in relation to anyone who seeks to follow such a course of action (which, unfortunately, includes most politicians, administrators, lawyers, and judges).

So, if rights are not to be a function of law, or governance, or institutions, or religion, or philosophies of personhood, then to what sort of natural law basis am I alluding? The two basic dimensions of natural law have to do with epistemology and character.

All of us have beliefs and understandings concerning the nature of things. Nevertheless, none of us is able to demonstrate the proof of those beliefs and understandings beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of others … or even in accordance with a lesser standard of the preponderance of evidence.

We might know a few facts here and there – although as Norwood Hanson pointed out quite some time ago even the notion of a ‘fact’ tends to be theory-laden – but, none of us has an a way of assembling those facts into an unassailable theory concerning the nature of reality and the purpose, if any, of existence. What we all have in common is a considerable ignorance and accompanying inability to identify the nature of truth in any given set of circumstances.

Students of the literature will recognize that there is a certain resonance between the foregoing outline of our individual and collective epistemological dilemma and the ‘Veil of Ignorance’ idea advanced by John Rawls that was introduced through his seminal work: ‘A Theory of Justice’. One difference between the two perspectives is that Rawls’ ‘veil of ignorance’ was a methodological device intended to lay the foundations for an analysis of the idea of justice, whereas my approach to ignorance is to point out that ignorance is our actual, existential condition … there is nothing of a methodological contrivance about it.

So, to what does ignorance entitle us? Well, for one thing, if we acknowledge our existential, epistemological condition, then everyone ought to have the right to seek to push back the horizons of ignorance in accordance with his ability and interests – provided that such activity does not interfere with the like right of another to push back those same horizons in accordance with his or her own ability and interests.

The foregoing principle can be summarized in what appears to be a very simple statement but one which has many subtleties – namely, ‘neither control nor be controlled. Among other things, one of those subtleties is that competitiveness (whether economic, religious, political, legal, academic, or athletic) tends to be entangled with issues of control, whereas co-operation tends to explore how solutions to problems can be found that involve neither controlling others nor being controlled by others –- and I believe that the cautionary principle in ecology gives expression to this sort of orientation.

There are, I feel, a number of ancillary rights that are entailed by the essential, natural right noted above.  For example, one cannot really be said to have a right to push back the horizons of ignorance if one must be preoccupied with merely trying to survive, and, therefore, the right -- within limits to be negotiated -- to: food, housing, clothing, health care, and a minimum guaranteed income are all part and parcel of the fundamental right to seek to push back the horizons of ignorance which befogs all of our lives.

Correlatively, every right is two-edged. In other words, rights involve duties of care toward others in order to be able to ensure that those individuals have what is necessary with respect to the issue of survival in order to be in an equitable position to try to push back the horizons of ignorance. To work for ourselves we must work for others.

Duties of care will not be fulfilled without character being present in some minimal fashion. This brings us to the second dimension of natural law..

One does not have to be committed to this or that religious system or this or that philosophical system to be able to understand that human beings have the capacity for character and that social order will prevail precisely to the extent that the principles of character are either present or absent. Developing character is one of the duties of care we have to ensure that rights are honored.

Some people who are religious have character, while others who consider themselves religious to not seem to grasp that idea and its inherent principles. Some people who are atheists have character, while others who share that general approach to life do not seem to exhibit the same sort of behavior.

One can argue that the possibility of character is a function of evolutionary progress over millions of years of change, or one can argue that the possibility of character is a gift of God or the Great Mystery. Nonetheless, in both case, the end result is the same – without character, human beings (and any society of which they may form) are in considerable difficulty.

By character, I am referring to the principles to which almost all religions and humanist traditions (atheistic or otherwise) subscribe and accord a special place within discussions of moral behavior. Patience, love, honesty, sincerity, humility, tolerance, charitableness, courage, integrity, nobility, compassion, love, friendship, gratitude, perseverance, fairness, and so on all give expression to the principles of character.

The key to order is: (a) the recognition of our condition of ignorance and a critically reflective realization of the rights (noted earlier) that ignorance entails; (b) the acquisition of the principles of character that are necessary to be able to properly honor the rights of (a) above; and, (c) a means of dispute resolution concerning the pursuit and implementation of both (a) and (b).

I tend to agree with the point made by Professor Hasnas in his article that stipulates how methods involving mediation/arbitration in relation to dispute resolution tend to be faster, cheaper, and more satisfying to the people who participate in those processes than what tends to be the outcome in relation to the adversarial dynamics that are inherent in legal battles involving the so-called rule of law. In my book: “The Unfinished Revolution”, I discuss how some indigenous peoples in Canada have returned to the teachings of their ancestors and use ‘healing circles’ to deal with some of the most horrendous offenses that one human being can inflict on others – for example, murder, rape, incest, egregious physical abuse, and the like – and, yet, have used healing circles to negotiate their way to not only resolving the conflict and tensions ensuing from the foregoing sorts of offenses but, as well, helping everyone – both victims (at least, the ones who are still living) and perpetrators – to find their way back to the natural laws involving rights, duties, of care, and character development. The results of such healing circles have been truly impressive and tend to far outstrip the ability of a ‘rule of law’ orientation to deal effectively with those issues.

In ‘The Unfinished Revolution’, as well as in another work of mine – ‘Democracy Lost and Regained’ [the book explores the 9th and 10th Amendments (mostly the latter) of the U.S. Constitution] – I indicate that if one takes sovereignty – both individual and collective – seriously, then people, not governments, must have control over their own destinies and that, perhaps, the best way of providing people with such control is through the vehicle of an enhanced notion of grand juries which takes the place of centralized, state and federal governments and involves a rotating membership drawn from local communities … although, in principle, one also could develop a trans-community form of grand jury that would work in co-operation with local grand juries with respect to certain issues that spill across localized boundaries.

My idea of grand jury governance is somewhat like the idea of the healing circles noted above. However, my grand juries are rooted in the two principles of natural law outlined earlier rather than in the spiritual teachings of this or that indigenous group … after all, the problem of diverse societies is that they are unable to do what such indigenous peoples do – that is, refer to a given tradition from the past which is part of the heritage of the people who are participating in the healing circles.

The capacity to negotiate is very important to maintaining order in a complex, diverse society. However, I believe there are ways to mediate social disputes that can be effective, practical, and co-operative which are quite apart from, and independent of, the notion of ‘free market forces’. 

People who are truly sovereign will co-operate and negotiate to discover solutions that are in everyone’s interests. Moreover, I believe that such sovereign individuals and collectives will be open to the capacity for creative, imaginative ways of doing things that are inherent in human beings.

Creativity, negotiation, character, duties of care, co-operation, and rights are all human forces. To the extent that we are truly sovereign individuals (and lest it is not clear, I consider a sovereign individual to be someone who is able to observe and put into practice the two foundational principles of natural law that have been outlined previously), we will be free to pursue and exercise those forces in functional, effective ways.

While the foregoing perspective might share certain resonances with the notion of a ‘free market forces-based’ approach to the problem of order in the public space, I really don’t consider the set of six factors that are mentioned at the beginning of the last paragraph to constitute a ‘free market’. Rather, those six forces merely give expression to the interaction of sovereign individuals seeking to establish the sort of order that is necessary to preserve and nurture the quality of sovereignty both individually and collectively.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Legality, Constitutionality, and Civil Disobedience

I recently listened to an interview involving retired judge, Andrew Napolitano concerning the Edward Snowden issue. Judge Napolitano was asked where he came down on the topic.

He drew a distinction between legality and constitutionality.  He noted that Edward Snowden had taken an oath of secrecy with respect to his job and, therefore, he was legally bound to keep such secrets. However, on the other hand, Edward Snowden also had a duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

According to the judge, everything boiled down to which duty had priority. Judge Napolitano indicated that it was a no-brainer -- the higher duty was to the Constitution, and he considered Edward Snowden to be a hero for leaking the information concerning the covert activities of the NSA ... incidentally have you heard about the cloud service that permits a person to store all of his or her personal data completely free that is being run by the NSA ... you don't have to do anything ... everything is done for you.

Judge Napolitano went on to point out that Congress and the Executive Office can issue all kinds of directives that purport to be legal actions. Nonetheless, the purpose of the Constitution is to place constraints on what can considered to be appropriately legal -- that is, what is consistent with the Constitution.

While I agree with the general point made by Judge Napolitano, it harbors a deep-rooted problem. More specifically, his position seems to presuppose that the meaning and scope of the Constitution is clear-cut and can be agreed upon by all, and this, sadly, is just not the case.

Many of the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court give expression to a 5-4 split. This means that four justices disagree with the majority concerning the meaning of the Constitution, and, as well, one should not forget that just because five individuals are agreed, generally speaking, with the purported meaning of the Constitution in a given case, this doesn't mean that they are correct ... only that they are agreed.

Waiting for the truth concerning the meaning of the Constitution is a lot like Samuel Beckett's 1953 play: 'Waiting for Godot' in which two characters while away their time engaged in various musings as they wait in vain for someone to show up. Beckett's play was labeled as being 'absurdist' in character ... a characterization that oftentimes is quite applicable to what takes place with respect to Supreme Court deliberations and decisions.

Then, of course, there is the whole matter of whether, or not, the Supreme Court jurists even ought to be doing what they are so busily engaged in doing since the Constitution really doesn't clearly stipulate what the role of the Supreme Court should be. While the power of the Supreme Court "shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under the Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties", as well as to a variety of other situations (such as disputes between states or between a state and citizens of another state), nothing is said in the Constitution about the precise nature of that power which was being given to the Supreme Court through the Constitution or how that power should be exercised.

Judge John Marshall took the bull by the horns and laid out a role for the judiciary in the Marbury v. Madison case of 1803. However, if one critically examines the logic of that decision -- and, I have done this, to a degree, in my book: 'The Unfinished Revolution: The Battle for America's Soul' -- a 660 page book that one can purchase for $3.00 through 'BillWhitehoue.Com) -- one comes away with a lot more questions than answers. In my opinion, Marshall's decision in the Marbury v. Madison case is deeply flawed and the problems inherent in his decision have compromised and corrupted the activities and decisions of the Supreme Court ever since ... resulting in many, many difficulties for the American people, if not the world.

Not that I agree with the manner in which the Constitution lays things out with respect to three separate but equal branches of federal government -- for I feel, as the aforementioned book delineates in some detail, that the whole constitutional exercise that began in 1787 in Philadelphia was a concerted attack on the sovereignty and natural law rights of human beings -- nevertheless, one might observe in passing that it would appear to be quite difficult to claim that three branches of government are equal, if one of them -- namely, the Judiciary -- gets to say what is, and what is, not Constitutional.

Moreover, by the time that the Supreme Court gets around to dealing with this or that Constitutional issue, oftentimes during the interim period of 'waiting for Godot', a great deal of damage has accrued -- damage that adversely affects millions of people around the world and not just in the United States. To say, in response to such difficulties, that the U.S. constitutional system might not be perfect, but it is better than all the rest is an exercise that dissembles the truth and seeks to dissuade people away from understanding that "being better" in the foregoing sense is simply not good enough.

If anyone reading this should wonder where I stand on things constitutionally speaking, I believe there are only a few good things in the U.S. Constitution. These are: the Preamble, Article IV, Section 4 of that document (which 'guarantees' a republican form of government to the states), the Bill of Rights (the first 10 Amendments), and portions of the 13th and 14th Amendments -- as long as these are not used to empower corporations and treat them as persons.

One way that might help to improve things -- i.e., to try to make the best of a bad constitutional situation -- would be to pass an amendment concerning a right to civil disobedience whose scope would be determined by the people rather than either the states or the federal government. This could be done through a grand-jury style format, and the decisions of that body would not be reviewable by any other agency of government (local, state, or federal).

Edward Snowden's action -- along with the actions of many other whistleblowers -- should not be considered from the point of view of legalities or constitutionality -- and, here, I part company with Judge Napolitano. Those acts should be considered from the perspective of the inherent sovereignty of individuals being judged against the sovereignty of their peers and what the latter individuals are prepared to accept as viable degrees of freedom concerning acts of conscience in the context of everyone's right to basic sovereignty.

We don't have to wait for Godot. Justice is conceivable as a function of what people -- independent of government -- are capable of achieving. This goes to the very heart of the 9th and 10th Amendments ... important issues that the judiciary rushes by like a scared kid whistling past the cemetery in the darkness of a stormy night.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Dynamic Between Faith and Doubt: A Sufi Perspective

A few days ago a friend who is not Muslim raised, in passing, several indirect questions about the idea of fasting and its possible value. When one asks Muslims about the issue, many of them will provide an array of reasons as to why Muslims fast.

For instance, some Muslims will say that it helps one to empathize with, or -- at least for a month's time -- walk in the shoes/sandals of, those who are poor and who go hungry on a regular basis (and this assumes that the poor actually have shoes/sandals in which to walk). Or, alternatively, some Muslims will point out that fasting is intended to assist individuals to develop the sort of discipline that will deepen one's commitment to Islam by constraining the usual appetites and inclinations of the nafs or ego, while some other Muslims indicate that fasting carries numerous benefits for physical health, and still other Muslims might mention the idea that fasting helps one to disengage from the activities of this world and concentrate more on the spiritual life. When queried about the fasting issue, some Muslims might refer to the five pillars of Islam and indicate that fasting is one of the means through which an individual can work his or her way toward Paradise, as well as a means through which the Muslim world can become strengthened as an ummah or spiritual community. Some Muslims will say that the rationale for fasting is a combination of all of the foregoing reasons.

I feel all of the foregoing ideas might be off the mark to some extent. The Qur'an doesn't list any of the aforementioned possibilities as the reasons why fasting is important. On the other hand, the Qur'an does indicate, in a variety of ways, that fasting, when carried out with a proper niyat or intention, has value ... that it can help cleanse us.

So, the question then becomes: cleanse us from what? Well, one possibility here is that fasting -- as well as the other pillars of Islam -- can help cleanse us in relation to misdeeds.

This leads to the question: What is a misdeed? Oftentimes, the definition of a misdeed will vary with someone's theological orientation and inclination. 

Misdeeds are actions and intentions that obstruct truth. We all have tendencies within us that prevent us from realizing the nature of truth to varying degrees ... we hide the truth and we hide from the truth.

The following account is often attributed to Ra'bia of Basra (may Allah be pleased with her). More specifically, there was a Sufi who came upon the saintly woman on a hill overlooking the city. He is reported to have engaged her in conversation which, among other things, included his passing judgment on the people of the city because, according the man, many of those individuals did not keep the fast, or did not say their prayers, or did not go on Hajj, and so on. Ra'bia (may Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have responded to the man by indicating that: "Thy existence is a sin with which none other can compare."

I can remember my own shaykh once confiding in me that the Muslims in the community used to criticize him for so many different reasons, and, yet, if they were to know his real faults, they would tear him to pieces ... alluding, perhaps, to a saying by a previous Sufi saint that the sins of the saints are the virtues of the common person. My shaykh was someone who observed the rigors of a 40 day seclusion on more than 17 occasions, along with observing quite a few 21 and 19 day periods of seclusion ... he was someone who kept the night vigil quite frequently ... he was someone who was constantly engaged in remembrance of God ... he was someone who served the Muslim community -- often at a cost to himself -- and, yet, he considered himself to have faults.

Fasting is an exercise in the dynamics of doubt and faith. I fast because I have come to trust, according to my own capacity and spiritual station, the words of the One Who has indicated to me, via the Qur'an and my shaykh, that fasting has value, and without necessarily knowing what the precise character of that value might be, I acquiesce, by the Grace of God, to what is being indicated as a valuable thing to do. 

When I fast, I observe phenomena that take place within me. I discover things about myself -- both strengths and weaknesses. I see the dynamics that come into play, and I begin to reflect on those dynamics concerning the character of the forces that are being manifested.

When my body or my emotions or my mind puts up a struggle and are reluctant to go along with the fasting idea because they don't see what the value of such a practice is from their point of view, I see doubt square off against faith and begin to circle about looking for openings through which to attack and, perhaps, vanquish that faith. 

By engaging doubt head on, one begins to understand the nature and contours of faith -- not as an exercise in blind, dogmatic belief in this or that idea or possibility, but as a living, dynamic process of exploration into the unknown using the instruments of mind, heart, spirit and so on. Through experience, and if God permits, one begins to develop a sense of dhawk or taste for distinguishing among a variety of forces ... one begins to understand certain dimensions of oneself and the world with varying degrees of depth, breadth, and clarity.

Where does my faith concerning Islam come from? After all, I didn't grow up in a Muslim community, and, in fact, Islam didn't even register on my phenomenological radar until I was going into my final year of undergraduate life in university, and, quite by accident (?) came across someone who was a Muslim.

At the time (and this was back in the mid-1960s) , I was an orderly in a private mental health facility. The individual in question was a client.

I never really interacted with the gentleman and actually didn't come to know anything about the beliefs, values, or practices of Islam through him. However, I do recall how, from time to time, he would engage in what I later came to know to be 'wudu' -- that is, ritual ablution ... although Western diagnosticians might have seen it as some sort of indication of compulsive-obsessive behavior.
We have labels for almost everything, but understanding of almost nothing. I am reminded of the saying attributed to Hazrat Abu Bakr Sidiq which indicated that realization of our inability to comprehend God was itself a kind of knowledge.

I do not know anything about that Muslim in the aforementioned mental health clinic. But, I feel fairly confidant that in his own way he was exploring the strange country of the soul that combines elements of both faith and doubt ... something that whether we are considered to be sane or mentally ill tends to haunt us throughout our lives. 

I was introduced to the methodologies that explore the realms of faith and doubt through a Sufi shaykh. I came to Islam through the Sufi path. 

The five pillars of Islam form a key part of the aforementioned methodologies. Consequently, fasting, being one of the five pillars, is one of the tools that forms the set of methods through which life experience is engaged. 

Faith is rooted first and foremost in a certain understanding concerning the nature of experience. Remember the Qur'an's reference to the Bedouins who said that they believed and were informed that they should say that they submitted because faith had not yet entered their heart ... faith is form of seeing and understanding.

We engage experience and, God willing, we begin to develop an appreciation for the nature and character of such experience. We come to rely on the understanding that arises through that sort of appreciation concerning the nature of experience.

Faith comes through experience. Doubt is the instrument which helps refine the character of what we understand or what we think we understand in relation to faith ... if we cannot countenance the presence of reasonable doubt concerning the alleged veracity of what we understand -- or believe we understand -- then what does this say about the quality of one's faith?

Like the Muslim individual whom I saw -- but did not study -- in the aforementioned mental health clinic, my whole life has been an exploration of the boundary conditions of the non-linear dynamics involving faith and doubt ... of trying to distinguish between the real and the false. What do I actually know and not just believe? Who and what can I trust? How should I best spend my time? How do I guard myself against premature closure on all of the important spiritual, political, economic, social, moral, and conceptual issues with which I  and the rest of the world  are confronted? When is doubt warranted?  

Faith is a species of understanding that contains elements of both what is known and unknown. Faith is an ordering of the dynamic antagonism between what is known and unknown that points in a particular direction ... it is the sextant of the soul by which I plot my way through the unchartered waters of life and navigate through the many doubts that populate those waters.

Doubt is my able assistant who constantly asks me concerning whether, or not, I am using the sextant correctly or whether, or not, my calculations are accurate or whether there might be some other better way to chart the course through unchartered waters. Doubt is my friend ... he helps keep me honest. 

But, my doubt is always about me ... about what I do, and do not, understand concerning the nature of my experience ... about what can be relied on, and what cannot be relied upon, with respect to such understanding ... about what stands in need of clarification and refinement and further experiential data.

When doubt comes to me and asks me why I am fasting, it tends to make me stop and reflect on the matter. I can't give a precise answer to doubt's queries, but I do have a deep, abiding sense -- honed through many years of experience witnessing first-hand the on-going struggle between faith and doubt -- that fasting helps orient the compass of my heart to point in a direction that gives -- as a function both of the known and the unknown -- what I believe is the best opportunity for me to discover that for which I am searching ... namely, the truth concerning my existence.

The following 13-minute talk by Lesley Hazleton is a very good one. I might quibble with a few of the things she says toward the beginning of her talk when she describes what Muslims allegedly believe about the first Quranic revelation -- for instance, she contends that Muslims believe that the first revelation constituted a direct contact with the Divine, when, Muslims generally believe that the contact was via the Archangel Jibriel ... although, on the other hand, if one takes the first part of the Shahadah to its mystical conclusion -- namely, that there is no reality but God -- then, Archangel Jibriel is but an existential loci of manifestation that cloaks the presence of God, and, therefore, the point made by Lesley might be, in an indirect fashion, correct even though many Muslims do not necessarily believe things in the way she describes.

I especially tend to agree with many of the things which Ms. Hazelton says toward the end of her talk when she indicates that if the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were to reappear today, he would be deeply saddened and upset with the manner in which so many of the original teachings of Islam have become distorted and corrupted in order to serve the theological, political, cultural, and economic interests of those Muslims who do not seem to have taken the struggle between doubt and faith all that seriously.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Inducing The Public To Conspire Concerning the Word: 'Conspiracy'

The following 11-plus minute clip is from a Scott Noble documentary produced through Metanoia Films. It gives expression to some reflections on how the general public is manipulated into adopting the perspective of the media, government, corporations, and the military with respect to framing an array of economic, political, scientific, international, environmental, and educational issues in very self-serving ways in order to denigrate and discredit anyone who is asking questions that the media, corporations, government, and/or the military don't want to be asked. 

This practice is a form of abuse and an exercise in the tactics of undue influence that is intended to induce people to conspire with the perpetrators of the abuse concerning the word "conspiracy". It is a form of epistemological martial arts in which the conceptual and emotional interests of a person are used against that individual in order to serve the agenda of the one -- or ones -- who is (are) applying the form of epistemological martial arts against individuals who do not realize they are being manipulated and abused.
Not all conspiracies are theories. In fact, four or five times a week, every week of the year, both federal and state personnel (including the courts, the FBI, NSA, the CIA, the military, and government officials) are busily engaged in investigating and successfully prosecuting cases of conspiracy.

However, when people outside the corridors of power begin to question the activities of government, the military, corporations, and/or the media, then the individuals who are asking the questions are labeled as 'conspiracy nuts and theorists. Moreover, the public is encouraged to treat with contempt those who are raising embarrassing questions concerning the activities and policies of the government, the media, the military, and corporations. In addition, and, perhaps, more importantly, the public is encouraged to automatically dismiss what the individuals being vilified are asking and saying without bothering to take the time to critically think about the matter. 

The individuals who engage in such exercises of undue influence and abuse are not your friends. Indeed, they are seeking to conspire with you to induce you to believe things that will only cause you and those you love, harm and difficulty.

The Politics of Conspiracy Theory from S DN on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Mini Library E-book Packages From Anab (Bill) Whitehouse

By the Grace of Allah, over the last 8-10 years I have managed to write thirty books and 39 poems. Recently, those efforts were assembled into a number of packages that have been fashioned into mini-libraries concerning various topics.

These 'libraries' are software packages that contain anywhere from 10 to 30 virtual books in different combinations and at prices that are more than reasonable (for example, $29.00 buys all my writings -- both fiction and non-fiction -- which total more than 12,000 pages). One of the packages consists of 15 books that focus on the Sufi path (A Sufi Perspective). A second set of 17 books (Forms of Abuse) explores the issue of abuse from a number of different perspectives (educational, historical, constitutional, economic, spiritual, scientific, philosophical, psychological,  political). A third package, which encompasses a set of ten books (The Patriot's Library ... also known as The Sovereignty In Crisis Library), critically examines the topic of sovereingnty -- both from an Islamic perspective as well as in terms of Western approaches to the issue of democracy.  A fourth package contains 39 selections of 'Floetry' (poetry accompanied by music), totaling about two hours.

Finally, the Applying Islam Library package encompasses all of my writing to date and, therefore, consists of 30 books and 39 poems. This is the $29.00 special alluded to toward the beginning of the previous paragraph.

Those 30 books, along with the Floetry selections, give expression to a point of view that is thoroughly rooted in Islam. However, the style, content and manner through which I write about an array of issues (ranging from: shari'ah, to: 9/11, democracy, education, psychology, philosophy, and much more) are often quite different than the way in which many other people might choose to write or speak from an Islamic perspective. Nonetheless, while the vocabulary and terms used in my writing might, to a certain degree, be different from the norm when it comes to writing from an Islamic perspective, the 30 books and 39 poems all give expression to the application of Islamic principles, values, and ideas to a multiplicity of issues that are of importance to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

There is a certain amount of overlapping material in relation to the foregoing packages of books. Consequently, if one is interested in acquiring one, or another, mini-library, one needs to compare and contrast the itemized contents of the packages to discover the one in which one might be most  interested.

One can link to the further information about the aforementioned packages in several ways. (1) You can either use the links which are found beneath the heading Anab's Special Deals which appears just below the 'Facebook'  logo that is near the top-right portion of the Sufi Amanesis blog page, or (2) one can use the following general link -- namely, Special Deals -- which serves as a portal page that contains links that take you to the same destinations as do the links alluded to in (1) above.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Forms of Abuse

We live in treacherous and perilous times. In many respects, we live in the 'Age of Abuse' since forces of abuse and undue influence impinge on us from every direction, seeking to shape our attitudes, beliefs, values, opportunities, and behaviors.

By using the term "abuse", I am not referring to just sexual and physical abuse -- although these forms of abuse are taking place in epidemic proportions in many different parts of the world. Unfortunately, the nature of "abuse" encompasses a much broader set of possibilities, ranging from: the already mentioned dimensions of physical and sexual abuse, to: spiritual, educational, economic, political, scientific, constitutional, financial, analytical, militaristic, as well as media and corporate forms of abuse.

There are some commentators (e.g., Steven Pinker) who have put forth an argument which claims that, relatively speaking, we live in one of the least violent, most peaceful periods in history. Such individuals have devoted hundreds of pages trying to prove their point.

The Achilles heel of such analyses is that a problematic metric is often used to measure the incidence of violence in the world. For instance, war, in the traditional sense of two, or more, armies fighting battles which have been, in some way, officially declared may occur less frequently now than in the past and while the proportion of the world population that are engaged in such wars might be less today than in the past, nonetheless, war is only one of the possible indices to use as a measure of the extent of violence which exists in the world.

Any time that people are deprived of the truth, they are being abused in a very violent manner since without the truth, we begin at no beginning and work toward no end, and in the process, considerable damage is done to understanding, values, beliefs, purposes, identities, and lives. Any time that people are deprived of sovereignty, they are being abused in a very violent manner since only when we are ensconced in real sovereignty do we have the opportunity to push back the horizons of ignorance and realize the truth of things. Consequently, denying someone his or her sovereignty constitutes a violent attack upon the existence of a human being since denying sovereignty undermines and destroys the very heart of what it is to be human -- namely, to freely seek the truth concerning the nature of one's own existence.

Today, there is a massive, multidimensional assault on the condition of sovereignty among people almost everywhere on Earth. This is not necessarily the result of a conspiracy of some kind, but, rather, a variety of people who have power have decided -- for their own self-serving reasons and motivations -- to abuse that power and, in the process, their decisions and choices have ended up destructively affecting the opportunities of many people to be fully sovereign and, thereby, be able to freely seek the truth about an array of possibilities.

If one adds up the array of financial, economic, educational, political, constitutional, militaristic, corporate, scientific, governmental, institutional, philosophical, religious, and psychological forms of abusing human beings that is transpiring today, one will have considerable difficulty concluding anything other than that we live in one of the most violent times in history. The assault on the bodies, minds, hearts, souls, and spirits of human beings is relentless, continuous, and ubiquitous. Consequently, contrary to what people like Steven Pinker wish to argue, we do not live in the best of times, but, instead, we might just live in the worst of times -- both qualitatively and quantitatively -- when it comes to the issue of violence against sovereignty and the huge costs to human life that such violence entails.

You do not have to use bullets and bombs to destroy people. Indeed, far more destruction is accomplished through: governmental, educational, economic, political, financial, religious, media, and corporate abusive policies than is done through war.

Wars are not waged to protect and defend the sovereignty of citizens. Wars are fought to protect and defend the institutions of power. War is merely the continuation through other means of the sort of abuse of power that goes on every day in a less militaristic, but no less abusive and destuctive manner by the institutional purveyors of power that frame and shape social understanding.

National security is the antithesis of sovereignty. National security is about the likes and dislikes of the way of power and, as such, it has little, or nothing, to do (except in a problematic sense) with the issue of sovereignty.

Although most -- but not all -- of the nations on Earth are labeled as being democratic to one degree or another, none of those nations actually protect, encourage, or nurture anything that resembles true sovereignty. Having the right to vote for representatives of equally questionable character and integrity, or having the right to vote for individuals who, for the most part, do not serve, and are not interested in advancing, the rights which are inherent in sovereignty is not an expression of sovereignty and, consequently, is not something to be cherished.

Democracy leverages the vocabulary of: freedom, liberty, and rights to bring about forms of governance that are a great deal less than what sovereignty requires. Democracy and sovereignty are not neccessarily co-extensive terms.

Sovereignty is richer, deeper, as well as more nuanced and subtle than the power-brokers of democracy would have one believe. Indeed, the power-brokers spend considerable resources in an attempt to dumb people down and misdirect the latter away from realizing the nature of sovereignty and the rights which are inherent in that principle. 

To find out more about various forms of abuse and the issue of sovereignty, please go to: 

Forms of Abuse (1) 

Forms of Abuse (2)