Archive for the 'History' Category



28th July 1914

Franz Joseph I

The prominent British conservative, Gregory Lauder-Frost, posted this image of Kaiser Franz Joseph on Facebook today. On the 28th of July 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, after Serbia’s rejection of the ultimatum following what Mr Lauder-Frost rightly calls the “organised murder in cold blood” of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, and Countess Sophie. Mr Lauder-Frost adds: “What should have been a localised conflict became a World War. We should all bear this in mind with the present situation in the Ukraine.”

The image actually appeared on a later occasion, attached to the Kaiser’s note “An meine Völker!”, issued after Italy’s declaration of war against Austria on 23 May 1915 (the so-called “intervento”). According to the only site on which I have been able to find it on the internet, it is a “Graphikpostkarte”. The message reads: “Der König von Italien hat Mir den Krieg erklärt. Ein Treubruch, dessengleichen die Geschichte nicht kennt, ist von dem Königreiche Italien an seinen beiden Verbündeten begangen worden. Nach einem Bündnis von mehr als dreißigjähriger Dauer, währenddessen es seinen Territorialbesitz mehren und sich zu ungeahnter Blüte entfalten konnte, hat uns Italien in der Stunde der Gefahr verlassen und ist mit fliegenden Fahnen in das Lager unserer Feinde übergegangen.”

But it is easy to imagine that the Kaiser could have looked like this on the 28th of July 1914 too. At least it is clear, from our perspective, that he should have looked like this. Certainly not in every way, but all in all, or at the very least in central and decisive respects, a hundred years of European decline followed. Ours are the lessons to learn.

Riksdagens öppnande 1898

Riksdagens öppnande 1898

Click to enlarge

Andrakammarsalen i nya riksdagshuset

Andrakammarsalen

Foto: Prolineserver

Hans Järta

Järta

Ljungberg om Järta i Tradition & Fason

Ljungberg i Bad Gastein

“Österrikes försommar är bedövande vacker. På Bad Gasteins ljusgröna bergssluttningar betar i varma junidagar kor och lamm, medan de välfyllda bäckarna för ned vinterns sista smältvatten från alptopparna. Landskapet andas idyll. De första vandringstusisterna samlas och tar sig med starka kängor och vandringsstavar uppför branten till dagens strapatser.

Idyllen verkar på en besökare tidlös. Men har den alltid rått? Här bland bergen stred man en gång häftigt om rätten att ha egna åsikter och egen religion. Det är en för många glömd historia som ändå förskräcker när den återberättas.

I vår tid godtar såväl den katolska som den evangelisk-lutherska kyrkan trots teologiska meningsskiljaktigheter rätten att fritt välja sitt religiösa hemvist. I Europa betraktas denna frihet som ett självklart arv.”

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Sri Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV, Maharaja of Mysore

Maharaja of Mysore

Klemens von Metternich

Metternich

“C’est que depuis longtemps l’Europe a pris pour moi la valeur d’une patrie.”

Ljungberg i Istanbul

Ljungberg i vårblommande Istanbul.

Ljungberg i vårblommande Istanbul.

“I Istanbul trängs människor från Medelhavet, Mindre Asien och Svarta havs-området. Båtarna över Bosporen visslar medan unga barnfamiljer äter sin mat i stadens parker. Rabatter blommar i alla färger, som i den klassiska ‘tulpanepoken’. Galatabron myllrar av människor, många fiskare. Man äter turkisk vaniljpudding i alla former några steg från det legendariska Hippodromtorget och ser straxt därefter den plats i Hagia Sofia där kejsarna en gång kröntes. I basarernas labyrinter och på kvällsmarknaderna säljs bokstavligen allt.

Istanbul lämnar få oberörda. I vilken stad råder samma vidd och rymd som i denna, en gång beundrad huvudstad för det Östromerska riket eller Bysans? Här finns mitt i ett levande nu en både tydlig och undflyende mystik, närd av årtusendens osynliga och förtätande närvaro.

Istanbul/Konstantinopel (det senare namnet borttogs slutgiltigt på 1920-talet) var centrum i ett rike som var kristet patriarkdöme och östromerskt kejsardöme på samma gång. Namnet ’Konstantinopel’ förbinder vi med hela den östkristna epok som ju avslutades så brutalt vid 1400-talets mitt, när den unge sultanen Mehmet II efter en kort belägring drog in i staden.

Att i dag följa de vindlande gatorna väcker lust att veta hur staden såg ut då den börjat spela sin roll i ett tidigt Europa. Tänk om någon kunde göra en animerad datorversion där man ser staden växa fram längs en tidslinje! Besökaren får i dag mest använda fantasin. Han får även en aning om, hur man i det gamla Bysans såg på hela den synliga världen och hur man omedvetet underordnade den det gåtfulla rike som i vår livsid bara aningen, konsten och mystiken kan försöka nå.”

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Liedman: Mer än en trollslända, trots allt

Tidskriften Respons beställde i början av förra året en recension av Sven-Eric Liedmans bok Livstid (Bonniers, 2013). Efter lång tids tystnad förklarades chefredaktören Kay Glans ha ställt sig avvisande när jag levererade den, och ha utförligt redovisat de ståndpunkter som låg till grund för detta – frågan om recensionens publicering skulle utan resultat i form av enighet ha “dragits i långbänk” på redaktionen. Med avsevärd fördröjning publicerar jag därför nu recensionen här.

Livstid är en kort bok med personliga betraktelser och reflektioner som skänker ytterligare konturskärpa åt bilden av den kände idéhistorikern Sven-Eric Liedman. Han skriver om sitt eget åldrande och sitt nyfödda barnbarnsbarn. Gestalter ur hans barndomsmiljöer ges stort utrymme. Samtidigt uttrycker han, naturligt nog, sitt eget väsen lika tydligt i tankarna om en rad stora namn i den väster- och delvis österländska kulturhistorien.

Kanske ligger bokens största värde i vad den lär oss om Liedmans intellektuella typ. Han är en av de otaliga som identifierat sig med och på flera sätt förkroppsligar vad som länge kallats den svenska ”kulturradikalismen”. Med den största envishet har denna kvarhållit grundläggande drag alltsedan 1880-talet, men också uppvisat en avsevärd bredd, rörande sig över ett spektrum från socialism till liberalism och över ett annat från naturalism till idealism.

Hos Liedman handlar det ju om kulturradikalismen i dess mer radikala form, som artikulerats som socialistisk och delvis marxistisk vänster, även om vi hos honom också finner reminiscenser från andra delar av dess spektra. Som ofta förr uttrycks tyvärr Liedmans politiska åsikter om samtiden med en bjärt simplism som ofördelaktigt kontrasterar mot hans mer nyanserade historiska reflektioner.

Det är visserligen sant att ”en nyfödd vet inget om pengar men vinsthungriga företag gamar redan efter det värde som hon eller han representerar genom att finnas till som människa”, att ”det välfärdssystem som byggdes upp under 1900-talet” riskerar att bli ”ännu mer likt en maskstungen ost, där riskkapitalisterna borrar sina smarta gångar och förtär allt i sin väg”. Men dessa och liknande formuleringar om hur högern tog kommandot, om smarta vinstmaximerare, om hur livet kom att gå ut på att bli rik, om hur pengar blivit det enda som räknas och hur ord inte har någon betydelse, om hur vi måste återerövra språket från ekonomerna, om klassklyftorna – de förmår inte riktigt gripa tag.

Det är inte bara så att man värjer sig mot det här endast antydda, enkla socialistiska alternativet. Man saknar, förutom den analys långt bortom historiematerialismen som verkligen möjliggör förståelse och förklaring, till och med vissa delar av marxismens teori, som även de i någon mån gör det. Denna brist blir särskilt tydlig när Liedman trots klagomålen om kapitalismens och ”högerns” härjningar naturligtvis utifrån sin ideologiska övertygelse ändå måste bejaka åtminstone mycket i samtidstendenserna som framsteg. Här driver han med vänsterströmmen in i en rad motsägelser, ja mot konvergens med just den kapitalism de blaffigt plakatartade skällsorden fördömer.

I meningen före den om de ”gamande” vinsthungriga företagen som väntar på att slå klorna i den nyfödde sägs det att ”Smartphones och Twitter, Botox och Viagra möblerar den samtid som blir den första för mitt barnbarnsbarn.” Skolpolitiksdebattören känner sig dock trivsamt hemmastadd i denna samtid när han själv entusiastiskt twittrar. På Twitter är det nämligen inte språkligt och intellektuellt utarmade produkter av den nystarka kapitalismen i förening med hans egen ungdoms radikala utbildningsexplosion som fylkas och ängsligt sneglande bekräftar rådande konsensus i krav- och formlös fragmentarism. Liedman förmedlar snarare intrycket att vi finner utpräglade, individuella profiler och karaktärer, den komprimerade formuleringskonstens nya mästare: ”Att skriva något på högst 140 tecken kräver en viss disciplin.” Man utvecklar ”en personlighet som växer fram som en mosaik”. Nåväl, Twitter kan säkert användas till något meningsfullt. Men om man välkomnar Twitter  borde man inte som Liedman avfärda Facebook, som åtminstone tillåter verkliga diskussioner med långa inlägg.

Liedman sätter sig på bussen ut till invandrarförorten – kontrasterande den mot sin egen privilegierade Göteborgsstadsdel – för att lära sig arabiska. Vid sidan av den ostentativa politiska korrektheten finns något sympatiskt här. Men förståelsen av invandringen är karaktäristiskt förvirrad. Gårdstens invånare bär på ”minnesbilder av krig, förföljelse, våldtäkt och tortyr”. Det är naturligtvis långtifrån en fullständig bild. ”Vem reste murarna mellan stadsdelarna i Göteborg, i Sverige, i Europa?” Kapitalismen förstås. Men det är ju framför allt den som överhuvudtaget vill ha ett arabisktalande låglöneproletariat här, och ett oerhört mycket större sådant än det som utgörs av flyktingar.

Liedman åker genom ett förfallet, ja förmultnande Vollsjö i Skåne. Där, i den tidigare blomstrande, prydliga byn, hittar han nu ”Sverigedemokraterna”, ”förlorarna”, som skyller på islam, ”araberna, slöjorna”. Vi känner igen detta. Var har vi hört det förut? Vilka är det som mest av alla anstränger sig att sprida denna och liknande ensidiga karikatyrer av invandringspolitikens kritiker? Jo, det är just de gamande, vinstmaximerande, välfärdssönderborrande maskarna i ”högern”.

När Liedman med den nya bombvänstern ondgör sig över den förvisso icke demokratiske men progressive Assads ”krig mot sin egen befolkning”, låter han precis som propagandan från de amerikanska neokonservativa och de NATO-, EU- och andra storkapitalistledare som för sina egna intressens skull mindre stödjer landets egna befolkning än importerade ”rebeller” från de mest extremt reaktionära, förtryckande, förföljande och torterande diktaturerna i arabvärlden. Vi befinner oss plötsligt så långt från kulturradikalismen som det är möjligt att komma i dagens värld.

Nej, i dessa tanklöst konformistiska politiska utfall visar sig 68-farfarsfar inte från sin bästa sida. Det gör han däremot på många andra ställen i Livstid, inte minst avsnitten om Augustinus, Rumi, Caroline Michaelis/Böhme/Schlegel/Schelling, Goethe och Christiane Vulpius, Kierkegaard och Regine Olsen.

Där kommer man att tänka på vad en annan känd idéhistoriker, Svante Nordin, betonat, nämligen att 68-vänsterns akademiska ledare, till skillnad från deras postmarxistiska efterföljare och den utarmning de ofta lämnade i arv till dem, trots allt åtminstone själva erhållit en grundlig historisk skolning och förtrogenhet med klassikerna. Liedman dröjer verkligen vid de senare, för vidare ett självklart värdefullt arv, om än med egna tonvikter och tolkningar. I dessa avsnitt filosoferar han på allvar, liksom han gör det i dem som ägnas hans barndomsmiljöer och dess människor, främst prästen Erik Söderberg, i en grannförsamling till den där Liedmans far var kyrkoherde, en stor bok- och konstsamlare som mot slutet av sitt liv flydde från hustru, pastorat och skulder till Stockholm med en av sina älskarinnor. Den sistnämnda, Herta Viola Magnusson, ägnas för övrigt lika stor uppmärksamhet av Liedman, som inte bara framlyfter kvinnor, utan också programmatiskt parallellställer historiens och samhällets okända med deras kända.

Tiden som sådan är ett tema, ibland litet för stort och svårt för att behandlas träffsäkert. Ett annat, huvudtemat, är livsvalen. Det framlyfts i baksidestexten: ”När vi kommer till världen är scenen för våra liv redan satt. Vi är inga oskrivna blad när vi föds, och tiden och miljön är givna. Men innanför dessa gränser kan vi göra våra livsval och kanske styra vår tillvaro i ny, oväntad riktning.” Här visar sig dock omedelbart en signifikativ oklarhet. Liedman tycks räkna med en verklig frihet. Hur förhåller den sig till arvets och miljöns determinism?

Det sägs mycket om idealistiska, ja rent platonska föreställningar hos Goethe och andra. Liedman representerar inte längre någon militant naturalism. Kanske känner han att det var länge sedan en sådan av politiska skäl behövdes. Han kan skriva med viss nyansering och komplexitet om religionen och mystiken, även om den grundläggande radikala, sekulära omtolkningen består.

Vi påminns om kulturradikalismens icke-naturalistiska gren. Ändå tillhör Liedman inte i första hand den, och hans egen variant tillåter knappast den öppning som kunde filosofiskt förklara livsvalets och styrningens möjlighet. I grunden står naturalismen fast, den dogmatiska slutenheten mot en högre verklighet. Liv efter den kroppsliga döden? ”Nej.” Metafysiken och religionen rymmer för Liedman fortfarande inget som konsten saknar.

Och vad som främst intresserar honom är, tror jag, egentligen hela tiden kulturradikalismens gamla gemensamma, romantisk-emancipatoriska temata: anti- eller åtminstone ickekonventionalismen i Carolines, Goethes, Christianes, Kierkegaards, Erik Söderbergs och Herta Magnussons livsval.

Tvivelsutan fanns historiskt viktiga sanningar i reaktionen mot inskränkt, förljugen konvention och moralism, liksom det även gjorde det på andra punkter av kulturradikalismens kritik. Men sedan många årtionden är det just kulturradikalismen som blivit den nya inskränkta, förljugna konventionen och (pseudo)moralismen. Och det kan inte hjälpas: som självständigt, positivt alternativ framstår dess allmänna, Sverige alltfort dominerande kulturella sensibilitet som fullständigt ohållbar i dess ständigt tilltagande verklighetsförlust.

Inte minst vad som inte kan betecknas på annat sätt än som dess andliga omognad blir slående när dess ständigt mer ensidigt betonade centrala värden, de värden som frigjorts – ”sinnlighet”, ”älskog”, ”vällust” – generation efter generation upprätthålls eller låtsas upprätthållas i hela livstider, in i den höga ålderdomen, av alltmer satyrlika revoltörer mot tingens djupare ordning.

Det finns ofta något betydligt mer förtvivlat krampaktigt här än vad vi finner hos Liedman. Han hyllar heller inte dessa ting på samma stumt grova sätt som exempelvis en Jan Myrdal kan göra. Glädjen är visserligen som ”vällusten”, men den har ”så många fler uttryck”. Och vällusten ”blir bara fulltonig när den delas med en älskad människa”. Men Kierkegaard såg förälskelsen som ”det största i livet”, och Liedman vill i sin tolkning av dennes kända livsstadier återföra den till sinnligheten, via det religiösa stadiets närmande till det estetiska. Han ser inga större manifestationer av kärleken.

Med den älskade ”kan man störta ned i den intighet som kallas den lilla döden. Man är förlorad och ändå kvar. Jag inbillar mig att fromma människor tror att uppståndelsen efter döden ska vara ungefär som uppvaknandet efter en kärleksakt. Själv tror jag att döden är som intigheten när man är nedsövd under en operation.” Liksom mycket annat i kulturradikalismen har denna trots allt fortfarande ensidiga vällustradikalism naturligtvis alltid tjänat och understötts av vinstmaximerarna, och så är mer än någonsin fallet idag. Dess konsekvenser för individen och samhället är oöverskådliga. Dess urskillningslösa befrielse står principiellt i konflikt med traditionell visdom, ja med den humanistiska kulturen i klassisk och högre mening. I historiens större perspektiv är den ett undantag, en abnormitet, en tillfällighet.

Bokens omslag visar en bild av en trollslända. Dess samband med innehållet är oklart. Kanske kan man symboliskt koppla några element ur folktrons sländor till det, men det skulle nog bli långsökt. Vad man först kommer att tänka på när man samtidigt ser bokens titel är väl bara, även om trollsländan inte formellt klassificeras som en dagslända, just det tillfälliga: ett kort, förbifladdrande, lättviktigt, ja obetydligt liv. Och utan tvekan är det precis så många nihilistiska kulturradikaler ytterst uppfattar livet i allmänhet.

Kulturradikalismen uppställer, tvärtemot vad han själv tror, snäva, förminskande gränser för Liedman. Men inom dem skriver han inte sällan läsvärt. Även hans liv och verk är faktiskt betydligt mer än en trollsländas.

Pantheism and Totalitarianism

Disappointed both in his quest for pseudo-divine self-glorification and pseudo-divine self-annihilation, the romantic settled for cynical and/or sensualist naturalism. This was one of the ways in which the dialectic of the two wings of modernity was carried on, and rationalism and scientism, at length, reasserted themselves. The transformation into scientistic materialism was implicit in the pantheism of both rationalism and romanticism, and it was worked out, in different fields of thought and knowledge, primarily by the Young Hegelians, the French utopian socialists, and naturalists like Taine, Renan, and Haeckel, who in their very scientism are still typical romantic pantheists.

After the interlude of impersonalist idealism’s threat of absorbing the person into ideas, the person was thus again faced with the threat of being absorbed into matter. We are talking here about the most palpably concrete social realities, in the era of nationalism and incipient industrial warfare. Idealism was distorted and transformed into naturalism. In new spectacular forms of undiminished extremism, the two wings of modernity continued to spur each other on to further excess, locked in the fatal and by now centuries-old anti-differentiational dialectic in which the reality and the values of the person were ever insecure.

Heretical pantheism has become the orthodoxy of the modern West. It is not that this new pantheism denies that pantheism is older than Platonism and Christianity. The idea of a primitive pantheism appears in innumerable speculations, scientific as well as popular. Yet these speculations are decisevely shaped by specifically modern presuppositions. Not least, the whole speculative interpretation of history is an exclusively modern phenomenon. The intention of the modern pantheist’s progressivism is partly what is perceived as a “restoration” of what is perceived as original non-differentiation. But the meaning and nature of the non-differentiation of early pantheism is radically transformed by the romanticization, as mere compactness, i.e. non-differentiation or rudimentary differentiation, is replaced by principled, nihilistic anti-differentiation. Modern pantheism is sui generis.

Pantheism thoroughly shaped modern liberal theology, and in the characteristic form of Kulturprotestantismus, Christianity increasingly ignored its traditional concern with personal salvation and turned towards immanent objectives and secular culture: the moralism of sentimental humanitarianism, philanthropy, social involvement, and political activism. As the world set the agenda of the Church, salvation, faith, and spirituality receded. Significantly, it was all done through the standard device of reinterpretation of the very meaning of salvation, faith, and spirituality.

Without exception, the secular Ersatz religions of modernity tended to reduce man to the lower levels of reality, the levels which did not constitute his personhood. [For a Voegelinian intellectual history of the secular political religions, see Michael Burleigh, Earthly Powers: The Clash of Religion and Politics in Europe from the French Revolution to the Great War (London: Harper Collins, 2005); this volume was followed by a second part on the twentieth century: Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror (2008). The work is not without its flaws, and the relation between those flaws and Voegelin’s positions are worth analysing at some length, but this cannot be done here.] Born of the most high-flown romanticism, Marxism set forth a new, dynamized materialism, and denigrated the individual to the point of proclaiming the essence of man to be his true collectivity. Soon the doctrine was put into practice through the liquidation of unessential individuals by the millions.

All the while utopians in the West ignored this and played it down, and countless philosophers insisted, unperturbed, on their own increasingly totalitarian system in the theoretical form of positivistic and neo-positivistic, reductive scientism and utilitarianism and in the practical form of manipulative social engineering. High modernism and psychoanalysis set about revealing the weakness of the bourgeois remnants of the modern rational self through new aesthetic and therapeutic means. Primitivity and violence were celebrated. Capitalism still partly inspired by the individualism of classical political economy continued to shape the history of one half of the world, while the other succumbed to the new totalitarian collectivisms. In its new, existentialist form, individualist “freedom” itself was used by Sartre to support one of the latter.

By many strategies, the differentiational framework which had made possible the understanding of the person and its values was thus gradually dismantled. When the experience of the metaxy was obscured or made impossible, and its institutional embodiment and transmission abolished, it could no longer inspire order in the soul and order in society, and thus withstand and restrain the pantheistic revolution. Destroying the differentiation that is the person’s precondition, the closed immanence of secular modernity, in all of its versions, revealed itself as a threat to the person.

Svante Nordin

Nordin

Wikipedia

Ljungberg om Versailles

Det är hög tid att påminna om Carl Johan Ljungbergs blogg igen, det var alltför länge sedan jag gjorde det. I sitt senaste inlägg skriver han om det för 1900-talets fortsatta historia så avgörande fredsfördraget i Versailles:

“I år kommer hackiga journalfilmer med militära framryckningar över leriga, sönderspränga fält att sändas i repris. Vi kommer att åter höra förtvivlans ord från skalder och författare – Remarque, Owen och Sassoon bland andra. Tragiken i att så många unga européer 1914-18 stupade i skyttegravarna undanskymmer dock en ännu större olycka – den att segrarna under inflytande av USA:s president Woodrow Wilson pålade det förlorade Tyskland villkor vars hårdhet och bristande logik födde en revanschvilja som blev ödesdiger för Europa och omvärlden.

Första världskriget har i dag glömts eller överskuggats av senare illdåd. Men genom detta krig kom länderna särskilt i central- och östeuropa att tillfogas förluster i människoliv som övergår dem i alla tidigare bataljer, innefattat Napoleonkrigens. Utöver alla stupade och döda uppstod oerhörda materiella skador. En tung konsekvens var att den gamla makt- och samhällsordningen förstördes, på gott och ont. Ett kejsardöme – det tyska – som dock symboliserat stabilitet, välstånd och framsteg hade fallit, tyskarnas värderingar, lojaliteter och trosföreställningar hade ifrågasatts i en grad att man kan tala om ett etiskt tomrum. Därtill föll motsvarande samhällsordningar i Österrike, Ryssland och det ottomanska imperiet.

Läget i Europa var på många håll livshotande. Enbart i Tyskland hade två miljoner man stupat, de flesta unga och många familjeförsörjare. Det uppstod ett samhälle där många led akut nöd: krigsinvalider, änkor och faderlösa. De många demobiliserade soldaterna levde på fattigdomens gräns, hungern var svår och livsmedelsköer skapade vrede och frustration. Inte minst hade krigslånen utarmat många. Sjukdomar som tuberkulos och spanska sjukan härjade. Många hemvändande frontsoldater fick som symbol för nederlaget även möta statens och hemmabefolkningens oförståelse och otacksamhet.

Efter kriget bröt i flera av de förlorande länderna gränstvister och inbördeskrig ut. Svårt led stater som inte hade infört parlamentarism eller inte hunnit så långt i sin modernisering. Flera av dessa stater hade en svag statsmakt. Hur segrarna valde att bemöta de förlorande nationerna fick troligen de värsta följderna, inte bara för Europa utan för världen.”

Läs hela, och även alla andra utmärkta inlägg som jag inte separat uppmärksammat här.

Sir William Jones

Jones

“Sir William Jones (28 September 1746 – 27 April 1794) was an Anglo-Welsh philologist and scholar of ancient India, particularly known for his proposition of the existence of a relationship among Indo-European languages. He, along with Henry Thomas Colebrooke and Nathaniel Halhed, founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal, and started a journal called ‘Asiatick Researches’.”  Read more: Wikipedia

The Holodomor Memorial, Kiev

Holodomor Memorial

Photo: Jorge Láscar

“The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор, “Extermination by hunger” or “Hunger-extermination“;[2] derived from ‘Морити голодом’, “Killing by Starvation” [3][4][5]) was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1932 and 1933 that killed up to 7.5 million Ukrainians.[6] During the famine, which is also known as the “Terror-Famine in Ukraine” and “Famine-Genocide in Ukraine”,[7][8][9] millions of citizens of Ukrainian SSR, the majority of whom were Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine.[10] Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by the independent Ukraine and several other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people.[11]

Early estimates of the death toll by scholars and government officials varied greatly; anywhere from 1.8[12] to 12 million[13] ethnic Ukrainians were said to have perished as a result of the famine. Recent research has since narrowed the estimates to between 2.4[14] and 7.5[15] million. The exact number of deaths is hard to determine, due to a lack of records,[16][17] but the number increases significantly when the deaths inside heavily Ukrainian-populated Kuban are included.[18] Older estimates are still often cited in political commentary.[19] According to the decision of Kyiv Appellation Court, the demographic losses due to the famine amounted to 10 million, with 3.9 million famine deaths, and a 6.1 million birth deficit.[16]

Scholars disagree on the relative importance of natural factors and bad economic policies as causes of the famine and the degree to which the destruction of the Ukrainian peasantry was premeditated on the part of Joseph Stalin.[10][20][21][22] Using Holodomor in reference to the famine emphasizes its man-made aspects, arguing that actions such as rejection of outside aid, confiscation of all household foodstuffs, and restriction of population movement confer intent, defining the famine as genocide; the loss of life has been compared to the Holocaust.[23] If Soviet policies and actions were conclusively documented as intending to eradicate the rise of Ukrainian nationalism, they would fall under the legal definition of genocide.[24][25][26][27][28] In the absence of absolute documentary proof of intent, scholars have also made the argument that the Holodomor was ultimately a consequence of the economic problems associated with radical economic changes implemented during the period of liquidation of private property and Soviet industrialization.”

Read more…   Wikipedia

Romantic Pantheism

In Hegel’s version of the significative attempt to preserve structured order in this new situation, the personal God was seemingly only nominally preserved in some late defensive writings for quite extra-systematic purposes, and the unifying idea on which alone the structuring depended was never conceived as transcendent in the first place. As merely one of the many expressions of a Hermetically conceived immanence, Hegel’s new articulate cataphaticism was doomed already for such intrinsic reasons to fail in a much more obvious way in this regard. From the beginning, the Right Hegelians, or at least the so-called “speculative theists”, saw the need for, and called for, a metaphysical supplementation.

But quite apart from these reasons, Hegelianism was also fated to a considerable extent to become submerged in the forces unleashed by the industrial and political revolutions. Since their classicism had been mixed up with modern rationalism ever since Descartes, the refined defenders of the hitherto dominant, French-inspired culture were often unable, even as they were forced in the face of the historical development of the nineteenth century – in which France itself took a leading part – to turn towards a stricter and more traditionalist classicism, to see the partial truths of the new German criticism of Enlightenment thought. But they did see its untruths.

In the new darkness brought on by the pantheistic revolution, all cows must, in the eyes of the French critics, perforce turn black. There could no longer be any well-grounded distinctions, any proper discernment. Everything flowed, everything was becoming, everything was relative. Since the unity and totality knew itself only through the infinite forms of the chaotic dispersion, the whole noisy confusion of the energies let loose by the Revolution must be accepted, indeed enthusiastically welcomed, embraced by Cosmic Love. Predictably, the demons were already at large, in art and literature as well as on the battlefield. Moral discrimination became impossible. Since transcendence was denied, there was not even in principle the possibility of an accessible vantage-point, or even one accepted as a mere necessary regulative idea, from which to make judgements.

Thought became so vague that contradictions could no longer be identified as such; the limited and the well-defined were dismissed as superficiality. There could be no well-grounded choices between different alternatives, all ideas had the same worth, truth was infinite and all-comprehensive, the mandatory tolerance could be based only on relativism. Criticism was lost, as was selection, refinement, and style. The differentiational perspective from which true and false, good and evil, beauty and ugliness could once be distinguished, at least to some extent, at least for the purpose of general orientation, had been absorbed in the process of the closed immanent totality.

In this pseudo-divine carnival, where the crassest material forces – both of the captains of industry and of the Enlightenment machinery of the state – advanced more ruthlessly than ever behind the shifting veils of neoclassicism, neohumanism, idealism, and romantic reverie and picturesqueness, it was the unstable Ego of individualism, rather than the person, that flourished, and that alone could flourish. For all his self-assertive, neoteric expressionism, the romantic individual moves from narcissism, via cosmic, subjective ego-inflation, to objective self-annihilation in the larger pantheistic whole in any of its manifestations.

Such self-actualization, drawing out the utmost nihilistic consequences of the self-creation of the Renaissance individualists, was sheer illusion, since there simply was no self to actualize. In a world closed upon itself and without ontic logos, the only values there could be were those posited by the individual, and such positing was what was expected of the new historical Heroes. Yet they pathetically failed to perform the expected Deeds, dragged down by the unacknowledged, constitutive imperfection of their human nature, devoid of grace.

The moral ambiguity of the new individual-cosmic self-actualization was glaring; with ethical dualism rejected along with metaphysical dualism, the new autonomy did not stop short of the Satanic. The only enemy, the only remaining evil was that which represented or was perceived as representing the resistance to the new pantheism itself, to the Righteous Goodness of the Human-Divine Ego and Nature: the conventional order of the establishment, the Church, the remnants of the ancien régime. The enemy’s scruples were only expressions of its false morality, and having been so repressed and deformed by this enemy, the Beautiful Soul had the right to go beyond its narrow conventions, to challenge them, if necessary by violent means. Only though releasing the demonic, the criminal, the perverted, the diseased, was it possible, under the present circumstances, to find the true self.

Or rather, to become one with the newly conceived whole. The underlying drive was the age-old one of the problematic forms of esotericism and monistic mysticism: to simply become God. But not only did failure produce disillusion; God was also redefined even beyond the undifferentiated oneness. The Beautiful Souls and Geniuses were lost in erotic intoxication with feelings, in the identification with the resurgent dark, irrational side of reality which the human fiat of modern rationalism had never managed to suppress; they were consumed by the Dionysian urge for ecstatic self-annihilation, for final extinction. At the peak of the absolute freedom, of “authentic” self-expression, of self-exaltation, they turned towards dissolution and destruction of an individual self which was in reality weak and sickly. What it really desired was ultimate ecstatic identification with nature/God, the erotic Mother-Goddess, the All-Ego, the irrational, arbitrary, nihilistic Will of the world-process, the empty oneness, the Void, Nothingness, Death. And a similar impulse was often found to underlie the new kind of search for identification with the Nation, the People, the State.

This, needless to say, is not the whole truth about this historical period. But the neglected fact is that its other truths, and not least its genuinely personalist ones, can be neither properly understood nor preserved or reappropriated unless these general truths about romantic pantheism are understood. The individualism it produced was often the shallowest thing. [For a few of the very many aspects and expressions of this, see Gerald N. Izenberg, Impossible Individuality: Romanticism, Revolution, and the Origin of Modern Selfhood, 1787-1802 (1992), which, however, is far from the fuller and deeper historical understanding of the pantheistic revolution.]

Whittaker Chambers

Chambers

Regeringen Hansson

I, 1932-36

Hansson

Den grundligare urskillning av folkhemmets goda och dåliga sidor som aktualiseras av dagens nationalisters åberopande av det kräver naturligtvis att vi tittar närmare på flera av dessa herrar (några nya tyngre socialdemokratiska namn tillkom väl inte i Hanssons senare regeringar utan först i Erlanders): fr. v. Arthur Engberg, Karl Schlyter, Östen Undén, Henning Leo, Hansson, Fritjof Ekman, Richard Sandler, Ernst Wigforss, Torsten Nothin, Ivar Vennerström, Per Edvin Sköld, Gustav Möller. Men vare sig ifråga om de goda eller dåliga sidorna räcker en sådan granskning; ett bredare och djupare historiskt perspektiv är nödvändigt.

Per Albin Hansson

stiger av 12an vid Alvik

Hansson

Carl Johan Ljungberg

Ljungberg

Carl Johan Ljungberg: Humanistisk Förnyelse

Sri Rama Varma XV, Maharaja of Cochin

Maharaja of Cochin

The Maharaja is wearing the mantle of the Order of the Star of India, of which he was Knight Grand Commander (GCSI).

Richard Gamble on Wilson

1998

See also Richard M. Gamble: The War for Righteousness

The Pantheist Metaphysics of the Revolution

In the French Revolution, J. L. Talmon observed, rationalism itself had been transformed into a passionate faith. [The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (1970 (1952), 6.] Already Lamartine noticed that Mirabeau managed to make reason passionate. The social and political consequences of the idea that the voice of the People was really the voice of God now had to be drawn. The Roman-inspired constitutional aspiration were swept aside by the Jacobins with the help of the new, militantly impersonalistic political concept of la volonté générale, as the revived generalistic paradigm of Greek political philosophy combined with the new centralism and nationalism to produce the first Gnostic dictatorship of modernity. The rights of the secular individual – in Robespierre’s rhetoric sometimes under the nominal designation of personality – were proclaimed alongside the rights of the abstract universal Humanity which was somehow embodied in the new republic.

Described as an explosion of divine wisdom, the Revolution was immediately seized upon and further theorized by the politically powerless German romantics and idealists. [The reactionary side of romanticism is not seldom a superficial, aesthetic phenomenon, under the surface of which hide the same radical ideas. When it is real, what we find is often the use of some of the new intellectual resources in the defence of pre-revolutionary social and political formations which were already characterized by the relapse from differentiation. A more balanced, selective, non-revolutionary use of romantic ideas is found in Burke and similar thinkers.] Kant wrote a treatise on eternal peace which was followed by the outbreak of the most extensive wars in history. If the people were only released, some Germans proclaimed, a magnificent, spontaneous, peaceful harmony of individually different nations would arise, like a wonderful symphony. This vision, however, already swerved significantly from the French form of universalism. Crushed by Napoleon, yet incapable of rejecting the Revolution, the Germans devised their own popular, pantheistic nationalism as an ideology of resistance.

Pantheism thus provided the metaphysics of the revolution. The People was the real divinity which advanced irrepressibly while the empty abstractions of the Supreme Being or Reason were formally worshipped. In the absence of the differentiational framework – the transcendent sphere of values, the ontic logos, and the objective moral order – the asserted freedom was of the distinctly modern kind: the freedom of mere self-assertion, either as guided by self-protection and rational calculation of the maximization of pleasure, or in the form of the new emotional expressionism of the romantics. It was no more qualified than the simultaneously asserted equality: both were normless, tending towards abstract absoluteness and limitlessness and thus the illusory. They corresponded to a universe in which All is God. And if All is God, God cannot be the Father, and if there is no father, the assertion of general human brotherhood is meaningless. German idealism, at one early stage, conceptualized it all in the form of a Transcendental Jacobinism.

Romanticism was the cultural expression of the state of affairs after the divine explosion, where differentiation and structured order were theoretically and practically rejected on all levels. Drawing on the accumulated legacy of the esoteric tradition, the romantics further transformed nature/God into an evolving, holistic, and vitalistic process in which the individual was to be merged through intuition and feeling. Everything was included in the becoming in which nature/God strove to realize all its potentials, in nature, history, and art, and in which it became conscious in Man. Nature was visible spirit and spirit invisible nature. Illustrating the continuity of rationalism and romanticism, Carlyle proclaimed that the Enlightenment philosophers were right in asserting that the supernatural was not distinct from the natural; but this, he held, meant that the natural must be elevated to the supernatural and not, as they had thought, the reverse. [See Franklin L. Baumer, Modern European Thought: Continuity and Change in Ideas, 1600-1950 (1977), 274-6.] But if they were not distinct, the meaning of this position was hardly clear. If All is God, there is no difference between high and low, up and down. The position that All is God, that God alone exists, turned out to be difficult to distinguish from the position that Nothing is God, that Man alone exists.

The new totality was without any structure, any hierarchy. It was without rules, auto-evolved, no longer created and ordered according to an ontic logos. The endeavour to preserve the traditional distinctions of morality, society, art and religion were powerless against the underlying blurring momentum of the pantheistic revolution.

Mendelssohn sought to show that pantheism, rightly conceived, was congruent with religion and morality. Throughout the ages, similar strategies could seem to have been devised by monists. Christian mystics had claimed to uphold the Trinitarian theism of orthodoxy, Sufi mystics had defended Allah and his law, and advaita vedantists retained on one level the ishvara, the personal deity. But that was before the pantheistic revolution of modernity. In the context of the latter, the elevation of a wholly ineffable, impersonal oneness to the highest, ultimate or only true reality assumed new meanings and had different consequences. Its often neglected metaphysical diffculties were reproduced on all levels of the respective philosophical systems. The efforts to preserve, under this condition of the relegation of the distinct focus of the personal aspect of the transcendent Godhead to a lower level in the hierarchy of being, the structured order of the still lower, phenomenal levels of reality all seemed somehow sooner or later to fail. As the transcendence of the unity was lost in the ever-growing metaphysical confusion, phenomenal reality dissolved into chaotic formlessness, increasingly exposed to the manipulations of arbitrary human will.

Science and Sentiment

Not much needs to be said here about the impersonalistic import of classical physics and the conception of science to which it gave rise and which in important respects dominated the West for centuries. In the course of the Enlightenment, classical materialism and atomism, the minor traditions of Greek philosophy which had been rejected by the speculative philosophers of the differentiational shift and which could not enter into the grand synthesis that was Christian theology, were again taken up and deployed in theoretical support of the emerging scientific administration of modernity. With the differentiational tension abolished, the West’s dynamism and creativity was increasingly refocused on the material sphere.

The story of how the West came seriously to adopt as a worldview the mechanistic model of matter in motion, how it built a predominantly materialistic civilization focused on the control and exploitation of nature, and how it proceeded to spread it to the rest of the world, is at least in the perspective of comparative cultural history not only a history of beneficial material and even, indirectly, some cultural and political advancement, but also one of a cultural, moral, and spiritual abnormity. From the model’s beginnings in the early modern period, when Hobbes and others immediately began to apply it to human beings, it has also produced problematic and sometimes tragic results of a scale and a number which alone foreclose any interpretation of Western modernity as simple progress of the values of the person.

Renaissance individualism, even among the learned humanists, had been marred from the beginning by the relativism, egocentrism, vanity, Prometheanism, and sheer vulgarity of the new secularism. When modern individualism was philosophically formulated by Hobbes, it was the grossest doctrine of a living lump of matter, without any distinctly human nature in common with others, causally impelled by the drive for self-preservation and the satisfaction of desires. This is the doctrine which still dominates liberal political philosophy, political economy, and utilitarianism, and which, behind the added facade of Locke’s philosophically largely unsupported moral rhetoric, is the basis of the modern theory of natural rights. The problem of setting only abstractive reason and nature against convention became much more evident in the eighteenth century than among the Greeks. [Again, while they point to the potential dangers in Strauss’s return to the classics, the historicist conservatives also criticize the failure of his American followers properly to distinguish between the classics and the radicals of the Enlightenment. But, as could be gleaned from the previous section, both parties fail to recognize the difference made by Voegelinian experiential transcendence, especially as supplemented by the personalistic dimension.]

Both the concept of reason and the concept of nature were susceptible of continuous reinterpretation. Modern rationalism was in the process of cutting off the upper layers of classical reason which accounted for the differentiational intuition of transcendence, and of reinterpreting nature in accordance with the new science. And in the course of the transition from transcendence to immanence, from theism via deism and pantheism to romanticism, Rousseau only added further new dimensions of the definition of the concept of nature to those of the rationalists. The individual conceived in the terms of any of the versions of modern “nature” was far from the person.

Meanwhile, the secularization of the Renaissance, the Reformation, hosts of new ideologues, and the new technological resources together made possible the consolidation of the position of the territorial monarchs, who set about neutralizing the independent aristocracy, centralizing power, and re-divinizing both the state and themselves, to some extent after the pattern of the early pantheism of the cosmological civilizations, the pull of which was still strongly felt. Because of the still historically influential concrete social and cultural results of differentiation in the intervening classical and Christian civilization, they could never completely succeed, but in addition to the intellectual developments of the new pantheism, the new political form of absolutism ensured that the process of modernization often continued to proceed in a manner intrinsically inimical to the values of the person.

Although Rousseau remains the paradigmatic thinker of romanticism, adding the sentimental variation of modernity to its uncompromising rationalization, [After almost ninety years, Babbitt’s Rousseau and Romanticism is still the unsurpassed analysis of this phase of Western intellectual history, the objections even of critics like A. O. Lovejoy and I. Berlin tending to fall by the wayside. The latest edition (1991) contains a lengthy introduction by Ryn.] others before him had contributed powerfully to the development of this unavoidable complement. In the worldview of monistic mysticism and metaphysics, nature devolved from the absolute and perfect impersonal oneness, and it increasingly came to be thought that for this reason it could not contain evil in any sense except that of privation. On this view, no expansive desires and rational and emotional exploits could really be evil. The providential plan according to which man moved towards the secular kingdom of perfection was apprehended not only by the sinless certainty of unaided reason, but by the sinless certainty of the innocent heart.

Like the universe of immanentistic Hermeticism, man is good, and the Man Machine of Enlightenment materialism could not satisfy romantic man’s emotional side. Committed to his secularism, romantic man could not return to the differentiated reality of true personal identity. Despite his rejection of the rationalist materialism, atomism, and utilitarianism as well as the formalist conventions of the culture of the Enlightenment, he had to move forward, inevitably carrying with him most of the deeper legacy of the modern impersonalistic development. Instead of reversing its trend, he added to it supplementary dimensions.

In Rousseau we stand not only before the paradigmatic addition of the general romantic complement, but also before the equally paradigmatic prefiguration of its more specific dialectic of narcissistic individualism and egotism, on the one hand, and its longing for absorption in a larger whole, on the other. And the larger whole is both the womb of the good nature which is one with the cloudy haziness that is now the divine, as confessed by the Savoyard vicar in Émile, and the whole of the nation, of la volonté générale: rejecting the disruptiveness of Christianity, Rousseau praises the cohesive power of pagan civil religion as perceived through his distinctly new sensibility.

Ljungberg om Nixon

Carl Johan Ljungberg skrev i sin blogg, Carl Johan Ljungberg – Humanistisk förnyelse, om Richard Nixon i samband med 100-årsfirandet tidigare i år:

“Då jag första gången besökte USA 1974 fick jag i tv följa den allt uppslukande Watergate-affärens sista fas. Slutet kom både väntat och chockartat, den dag då president Nixon efter de utdragna kongressförhören beslöt avgå och helikoptern med hans familj lyfte från Vita husets gräsplan och försvann. När min Amerikasommar var slut hette presidenten, utan att något nyval hållits, Gerald Ford.

NixonDebatten har rasat sedan dess om vad Watergate-avslöjandet betydde för Nixon, liksom om vad Richard M Nixon (1913-1994) har betytt för Amerika. Den avsuttne presidenten sökte aldrig rättfärdiga sin förmodligen ringa andel i inbrottet i kontorskomplexet vid Potomacfloden. Några tyngre avslöjanden om Nixon i stil med vad som beståtts John F Kennedy kom dock aldrig, och hans eftermäle har inte blivit så mörkt som en del förutspått, samtidigt som det republikanska partiet tidigt och närmast demonstrativt markerade avstånd från Nixon.

Att Richard Nixon var en skicklig politiker förnekar få. Det är förment betänkliga egenskaper som slughet och förkärlek för intriger man schablonmässigt har tillskrivit honom, ungefär som om den president funnits som saknat varje beräkning. Juristen Robert Bork har kallat Nixon det sena 1900-talets sannolikt mest begåvade Vita huset-inbyggare, historikern Paul Johnson har kallat Watergate-förhören en ”häxjakt”. Problemet var att Nixon för det första var från Kalifornien och för det andra hade gjort sig till fiende med en då växande politisk aktör – själva de medier med vilka han genom sin aktiva roll under McCarthy-affären gjort sig till dödsfiende. (Enligt pressforskaren Edith Efron 1971 fick Nixon under sin tid i Vita huset mycket riktigt negativ/positiv presstäckning i relationen tio till ett). När dessa medier vägrade att bortse från ett slags agerande som Nixon själv länge dragit sig för, men som tidigare presidenter gärna hade ägnat sig åt, var hans öde i sak avgjort.

I en hundraårsbetraktelse i National Review ger James Rosen, författare till en av de många Watergate-böckerna och kännare av Nixons justitieminister John Mitchell, några tunga skäl för att republikanerna bör ta Nixon till nåders igen. Fast somliga nog må höja på ögonbrynen förtjänar argumenten att kort återges.”

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The Novelty of Early Modern Immanentization

Voegelin is controversial to some Christians in that he locates some of the sources of the immanentizing reinterpretations in the New Testament itself, notably in some passages of St Paul and in the Revelation of St John. He points to Augustine as the one who saved the differentiational insights through his rejection of literalistic interpretations and the applications of the Biblical prophecies and visions to the course of worldly history which had been practiced by some of the earlier Fathers: the prophecies and visions must be considered mysteries, man cannot know precisely what they mean, they refer rather to events in relation to transcendence than to worldly history, and knowledge of the future course of the latter is beyond man.

Yet there can of course be no doubt about the novelty of the early modern immanentizers’ interpretive ingenuity. Francis Bacon and the British radical Puritans and their European advisors set about fulfilling the prophecies through scientific discovery, technical inventions, social engineering, and military conquest. The new elements were so prominent that the description of the new heavens and the new earth with the help of the Biblical texts was soon no longer credible. In the course of secularization, the apocalyptic disruptivity of divine intervention and the establishment of the Kingdom of God was replaced by a peaceful and gradual providential guidance of the individual, not to salvation through Christ but, through the use of the new worldly instruments, towards the realization of a secular, materialistic kingdom of human happiness defined in terms of sensual pleasure. Calculating, unaided human reason on the one hand, and increasingly sentimental human emotion on the other, could reach predictive knowledge of the providential plan, of God’s will.

The role of the esoteric tradition in the rise of modern science has become a commonplace in the history of science; during the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment it was to a considerable extent magic modes of thought, not least their impetus towards exploitative power and control, that came to dominate Western culture through official, political sanction and institutional embodiment. But other aspects of the influence of esotericism on Western modernity have only recently been better understood. The precise connections between the various strands of modern thought and the underlying, impersonalistic, pantheistic revolution have become much more easily visible.

It has become clearer, for instance, how in decisive respects the radical Enlightenment started already in the seventeenth century, mainly inspired by Spinoza. [See Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment: Philosophy and the Making of Modernity, 1650-1750 (2001).] With a better understanding of Spinoza’s esoteric connection, it has become possible to some extent to see him, like Hegel, as a link between Western esotericism and a secular modernity characterized by closed immanentism and moral relativism. In the emergence of the radical Enlightenment, the proclamations of atheism both alternate with and are prepared by a process of ingenious hermeneutic compromise, ambiguity, and dissimulation. Before the triumph of Newtonianism, Hobbes was forced to devote much of his Leviathan to scriptural exegesis, thus becoming a pioneer of the characteristic strategic devices of liberal Christian scriptural interpretation. And also more generally, the rejection of the differentiational framework took place through reinterpretation and not through a clean break with the concepts of the past. Yet the rejection was none the less radical for being gradual and deceptively roundabout in its method. [This account of early modern developments is found also, with more references to and discussion of recent scholarship of the esoteric tradition in modernity, in my ‘Idealism and the Pantheistic Revolution: The “Big Picture” and Why it is Needed’, in James Connelly and Stamatoula Panagakou, eds, Anglo-American Idealism: Thinkers and Ideas (2010).]

From the perspective of personality and differentiation, Spinoza, who carried on Hobbes’ project not least with regard to the understanding of scripture, must certainy be seen as a key thinker of modernity, since in him so many of the decisive early modern developments converged and culminated, and since his influence was quite as strong on the romantic wing of modernity as on the subsequent development of the rationalism which he himself represented. He is one of the prime releasers of the metaxical tension, one of the master closers of the differentiational gap. With the new, fashionable esprit de géométrie that his wild forerunners had lacked, Spinoza sought to show that God and nature are identical and spirit and matter strictly nothing but two aspects of the same thing. This was the consummate pantheistic synthesis of the Gnostic and Hermetic currents with Descartes’ rationalism and Hobbes’ irrational-mechanistic anthropology and reinterpretive scriptural exegesis.


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All original writing and photography © Jan Olof Bengtsson

"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
Ramana Maharshi