Saturday, December 17, 2005

Eastern Philosophical Foundations of Defeatism

| by Agi | 9:31 PM |

Well, the defeatists! still looks like crap on Typepad. But we don't really care, because after all, we are defeatists! I wrote the following piece at our place on Typepad but I'm also cross-posting it here to give you all a short primer on defeatism. Enjoy.

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Although Eastern Philosophy is Holier Than Mao's area of expertise, I'd like to take a brief look at the philosophical underpinnings of the defeatist ethos. There are definite Taoist and well as Buddhist parallels to the defeatist way of life.

The following excerpt comes from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh and is titled "Hope as an Obstacle":
Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. But that is the most that hope can do for us—to make some hardship lighter. When I think deeply about the nature of hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment. We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God. Hope becomes a kind of obstacle. If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.

In other words, only by losing all hope is one able to experience true freedom. Hope is an illusion, even a prison, that prevents us from experiencing real freedom today.

Then there's the concept of delayed gratification which keeps us waiting and waiting for our "savior" which never arrives. The thought of achieving pleasure in the future may keep us moving forward, but we never actually reach that destination.

Enjoy life today, not tomorrow.

You have got to read Sartre, Camus, Ionesco and Brecht (if you haven't already) - all lapsed Catholic boys who believed in the world as it is - and didn't think human's should constantly rely on God to fix their problems. I am a particular student of both enlightenment (all hail Voltaire and De Sade) and connective existentialist philosophies - with a healthy dollop of Buddhist centrism thrown in (I hope - but I do). And your ideal round table would be?
I go more for those compatible with activism - Marx, Foucault, Friere.
Ah, Marx. He's the philosopher of the 21st century. I can't wait to watch it happen.
Groucho or Harpo Marx?
I'd like to sit at a round table with the Buddha, Thomas Jefferson, Thoreau, Jean Baudrillard and Herbert Marcuse...and Groucho Marx.
No offense eRobin, but I think Marxism demonstrated its practical applications quite vividly during the 20th century, and it wasn't pretty.

I agree with Marx's analysis of the world and the way it works. However, I don't agree with his solutions for creating utopia. I don't think utopia is even possible due to humanity's tendency for conflict, war and oppression. There is no way to enforce Marx's program as described in the Communist Manifesto without subverting democracy.

Unless Marxists can figure out to implement Marx's social program without resorting to totalitarianism then I don't think its possible.

Perhaps we could open a new thread about the future of Marxism...
You have really great taste on catch article titles, even when you are not interested in this topic you push to read it
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