About Me: This site is controversial, so I need to tell you about myself. Click here for my photo. September 12, 2001; update June 19, 2011. Bold emphasis added December 15, 2003. You can write to me at contact.html.
You are at http://mailstar.net/about-me.html.
I grew up in Sydney, Irish-style Catholic, in a lower-middle-class family. I was brought up with a Manichean view of sex, and "sublimated" that side of myself into academic achievement, being Dux of my school (Marist College, Eastwood) in 1965 and gaining 42nd place in NSW overall. The teachers developed my Maths skills, but I independently acquired a love of reading about other civilisations, especially those from the past. Upon leaving school, I turned down a University Bursary to study, instead, for the Catholic Priesthood. During my 3 years and 3 months in Catholic seminaries, I changed from being a fundamentalist Catholic to a liberal one, and lost my belief that there is a Devil and that matter is evil. You may be surprised to know that our studies included a critical examination of Marx and Freud. Freud especially unsettled me - I secretly doubted my real motives for being there. At the seminary bookshop, I bought a book by a Leftist theologian, Robert Adolfs, about Nietsche's madman and the "Death of God", which impressed me; the choir-master, who we nicknamed "Mother" on account of his protectiveness, tried to make me return that book, when he found out. I absorbed the idea that the accomodation with Constantine had been a mistake, and that ministers of the Church should emerge from their congregations in a "bottom-up" way; this influenced my decision to leave. The '60s student movement, questioning all authority and traditional practices, had its counterpart within the seminary; the 1968 Paris student movement (largely Trotskyist, I found out later) left its mark. Nine months after leaving the seminary, I went to Sydney University, where I encountered Behaviourism, Marxism, and other reductionist philosophies. I felt that the philosophies taught there were just as politically correct as they had been in the seminary, in that strict limits were put on what "line" was acceptable.
For many years now I have been an advocate of the Taoist (Daoist) philosophy (not the Taoist religion): A Daoist Philosophy. There is one particular aspect of Marxism that I strongly reject, the idea that the human mind (or soul) changes over time according to the economy and technology of the day. This would mean that tribal peoples, ancient civilisations, and our own society, are fundamentally different in the personalities they produce.
Are "civilized" people in some way superior to "primitive" people? It's common in New Left circles to cast doubt on stories of cannibalism, human sacrifice etc.; admittedly they were used by the European Empires to justify dispossession.
However, Inca child sacrifices have been found on the top of the Andes mountains. And the eminently respectable Tim Flannery wrote a book called 'Throwim Way Leg, about cannibalism he encountered in a remote tribe in Papua New Guinea - not long ago.
On the other hand, that cannibalism was of people from another tribe. But even "civilized" peoples have an "us" and "them" ethic: we're always concerned about the body count on "our" side, but we don't mourn for the victims on the other side. So, today's "higher tribalism" may be different in scale from earlier kinds, but not in kind.
Perhaps "the West", bombing Iraq for over 10 years now, has few lessons to teach about moral superiority. The same "West" had encouraged Saddam to invade Iran by selling him weapons; yet they now wash their hands and make HIM the pariah.
So, contrary to Marx, I believe that the basic philosophical and values issues remain the same for all cultures and civilisations, now and in the past. That means that we can learn from the Wise People of the past, in an ongoing Conversation spanning the centuries. The resumption of that Conversation is one of the most pressing tasks before us at present. Jesus of Nazareth, no doubt, is one of those wise people, but I now think of him as a man like other men, a philosopher in the old-fashioned sense of "sage". He was, I believe, executed by the Jewish leaders of the day; the Romans only co-operated to keep the peace. Why was Jesus executed, but not Buddha? The difference probably can be found in an intolerance present in all the monotheistic religions and philosophies (including Marxism and Radical Feminism) that have emerged from the Jewish. Nevertheless I do not advocate blaming the Jewish people for that execution; such corporate thinking is indeed a feature of Jewish philosophy, but one that I strongly reject.
In the Roman Empire, both the Jews and the Christians (who were Jews too, originally) had a social welfare system for their own members. No-one else did; this is the origin of the Social Welfare state. An excess of corporatism leads to Totalitarianism, the attempt to create a "group soul": to mould all minds the same way. This practice may have been a necessity in small tribal societies, but it is unacceptable in large-scale societies. The notion of "praxis", the union of thought and action, is another aspect of Jewish thought: this is what led the Bolsheviks and Radical Feminists to treat speech - and ultimately thought - as crimes of the same nature as physical actions. Another Jewish habit is the use of essentialist names that bundle a value-judgment with the very name, such as "female genital mutilation", instead of the more neutral "female circumcision". This renders argument impossible: the very name prejudices any debate. In Jewish thought, the essence of an object resides in its name; thus the essence of God resides in the name of God, and for this reason the name is not pronounced. Even today, observant Jews write "G-D" rather than "GOD".
The Aryans who conquered Ancient India created a caste system which subordinated the lower castes but left their culture intact; even their presence was considered polluting. This concept of pollution is also strong in the Jewish religion, being the reason why Jews are exhorted to dwell apart, to keep to themselves, to keep ritually clean. Those Jews who choose to break this taboo should, I believe, be supported. It's true that many do try to change the wider community, but the solution to this, I believe, is moderation: selection of the better Jewish causes (such as race-mixing) and rejection of the worse ones (such as thought-control).
The religions that have sprung from Judaism (Christian, Islam, Marxism, Radical Feminism) proclaim equality, and doctrinally reject class differences; but they are ruled by a theocracy (priesthood, rabbinate etc) or nomenklatura ("new class" of elite managers & experts of USSR, Yugoslavia etc). Their monotheism becomes a declaration of universalism, the imposition of a single culture with intolerance of minority cultures, which are converted or assimilated. The Islamic invasion of India, for example, bestowed equality but at the expense of the cultural diversity allowed in Hinduism. As a third alternative, China's state has traditionally allowed minority peoples to perpetuate their culture, as long as they did not threaten the state.
I was surprised to learn recently, that the early Christians presented themselves, amid the Hellenistic culture of the Roman Empire, as very much like the Cynics. This is shown by F. Gerald Downing in several books, especially Christ and the Cynics; also Cynics, Paul and the Pauline Churches. Paul's expression "Neither Jew nor Greek" is reflected in the name of this website. The Cynics were wandering free-thinkers, advocates of the simple life, the examined life, "plain living and high thinking" as Thoreau put it more recently. They seem very Taoist to me. Downing shows that many of the stories in the synoptic gospels have a Cynic theme. Could this be the way for Christianity to re-invent itself in our time?
The dialectical method of the Three Ways of Knowing God, first articulated by Aquinas with regard to human knowledge, was later applied by Hegel and Marx to historical processes. Aquinas' formulation establishes a bridge between Western and Eastern concepts of divinity, the former "personal", the latter "impersonal" i.e. karma or tao, because even in the "personal" case, we cannot understand God's nature.
You can write to me at contact.html.