Holger Danske

Holger Danske

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    Friday
    May232014

    The Long View: History

    John's History index: everything from Thomas More to Black Hawk Down. I haven't even scratched the surfaces of John's many book reviews and essays. There are a lot of good ones here.

    The Life of Thomas More made an impression on me when I read this review. Thomas More is also St. Thomas More, but we cannot forget he was also a skilled politician, and was involved in the execution of Protestant dissenters before his own execution. More was a complex and fascinating man, and this is a good capsule biography of him.

    It was John that prompted me to read Black Hawk Down. A first-rate piece of war reporting, on par with We were Soldiers Once, and Young. Bowden tells the story of the Battle of Mogadishu through the eyes of those who were there. I suspect this will later be seen as an early part of the Global War on Terror that the United States still finds itself waging 13 years after 9-11.

    History


    This subject can include the whole world, and I am afraid that I have done little to narrow the scope of the matter. I am particularly interested in three classes of history: models of history (theories that explain how history is supposed to work), world history (with particular relevance to international politics), and national histories, especially those of America and China. This just about covers everything.

     

    Thursday
    May222014

    CrossFit 2014-05-21

    Front squat 3RM

    3-3-3-3-3

    Max weight 135-140-145-147-150# PR!

    Last time 135#

    Wednesday
    May212014

    CrossFit 2014-05-20

    Runny Cindy

    20 minute AMRAP

    • 400m run
    • 3 rounds of
      • 5 pullups
      • 10 pushups
      • 15 squats

    Rounds 2 + 48 reps

    Tuesday
    May202014

    CrossFit 2014-05-19

    Zembiec

    5 rounds

    • 11 back squats
    • 7 strict burpee pullups
    • 400m run

    Time 26:02

    Saturday
    May172014

    CrossFit 2014-05-17

    2014 Regionals Event #7

    • 64 pullups
    • 8 OHS [95#]

    Time 7:41

    Thursday
    May152014

    CrossFit 2014-05-14

    2014 CrossFit Regional Event #6

    • 50 Calorie row
    • 50 box jump-overs [24"]
    • 50 deadlifts [125#]
    • 50 wallballs [16#]
    • 50 ring dips
    • 3 wallballs

    Time 25:00

    Wednesday
    May142014

    CrossFit 2014-05-12

    10 rounds

    • Rope climb
    • 100 ft sprint

    Time 10:10

    Wednesday
    May142014

    CrossFit 2014-05-13

    21-15-9-6-3

    • Handstand pushups [kipping]
    • Front squats [115#]
    • Bar-facing burpees

    Time 20:00 [time cap reached in the 15 rep front squats]

    Tuesday
    May132014

    The Long View: Empire

    John mananged to review at least three books by the same title: Empire. This one is famous, it is the book everyone is citing, conciously or not, when they call something "imperialistic". They are also using that word incorrectly, but memes are notoriously bad grammarians.

    Empire

    by Michael Hardt & Antonio Negri

    Harvard University Press, 2000

    478 Pages, $18.95

    ISBN: 0-674-00671-2

     

    You think that globalization is just a device for smothering revolutionary potential, do you? The authors of Empire argue otherwise. One of them, Michael Hardt, is an associate professor in the Literature Program at Duke University. The other, Antonio Negri, has taught political science at the Universities of Paris and Padua. Currently, he is so ineffably progressive that he is actually being held in Rome's Rebibbia prison for the radical violence of decades past. 

    Empire analyzes the current world situation, reformulates contemporary Leftist theory to accommodate it, and tentatively points the way toward the overthrow of post-historic capitalism. The work is relentlessly postmodern; it connects with classical Marxism chiefly to explain why it is no longer relevant. The authors' thesis is that would-be revolutionaries are mistaken if they oppose globalization as such. Globalization really is the end of history, and there is no going back. However, the form that the globalized world is assuming, which the authors call the Empire, is a corruption of the post-historic world. The task of revolutionaries is to find where the Empire is vulnerable.

    The problem is that, to use one of the authors' metaphors, the Empire is Saint Augustine's City of God. As you might imagine, it's a tough nut to crack. Like the Roman Empire, it seems to its subjects to be permanent, eternal, and necessary. It has no outside, at least in principle, and internally it distinguishes neither male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free. It does not rest on conquest, but on consensus. The Empire is the post-historical incarnation of eternal justice. The Empire does not merely happen to exist, like a historically contingent state does; rather, the Empire must exist, at least as an ideal. It closes the gap that opened in the Renaissance between the ethical and the juridical. Its wars are just wars, police actions against opponents who can marshal no principled claims against it. No civil or military stresses remain that might threaten it; the Empire is always in a crisis, so its acts are emergency measures that trump the ordinary law of the sovereignties and corporations that comprise it.

    The authors point out that the Empire is not really a state. It does indeed have state-like organs, such as the UN, the IMF, and the WTO. For that matter, it even has a tripartite anatomy. At the top of the top third is the United States, or at any rate its military and cultural power. Immediately below are the G7 countries, or rather their command of the world's money. In the middle third are the governments and corporations that carry out the routine functions of governance. In the bottom third are the NGOs, churches and other organs of civil society. These latter represent the People of the Empire, just as the middle tier represents its aristocracy and the top third the royal power. (The authors are very impressed by the description of the late Roman Republic given by Polybius in the second century B.C.)

    ...

    The biggest single problem with this book is that the authors never clearly explain what they are trying to do. They speak of revealing "the City of Man" under the corruption of the Empire, but we hear nothing about that City's constitution. They say this City of Man will in fact see the end of the human, in the sense of an anthropology that places man above nature. They hope to pursue a wholly immanent ethics, something along the lines of Foucault's "care of the Self."  They say that what they seek is a "re-total" rather than a "re-public." This language is not helpful.

    The authors have had some kind words about the recent great demonstrations against the institutions of globalization, though they continue to point out the futility of opposing globalization itself. Those demonstrations were marked by contempt for free speech, public safety and human life. Quite likely, in those cosmopolitan riots, we saw what the City of Man really looks like. We can't say we were not warned. 

    Monday
    May122014

    The Long View: Eschatology

    This is John's subject index for eschatology, a well populated page indeed. A great deal of John's writing was influenced by this study of the Last Things, so not everything he wrote on the End of the World is referenced here. I particularly recommend John's book, The Perennial Apocalypse. It is a short, but very informative read about how the world keeps trying to come to an end, and sometimes actually does. I would rank it as one of my favorite books of all time. You can get it as an ebook rather inexpensively. John no longer profits from it, but it is a fine study of different cultures approach the end of the world, and what they all have in common when they do.

    Eschatology: The science of the Last Things

    The subject embraces personal death, the goal of history, the end of the world and the fate of the universe.

     

    I have done a comparative study of the end of the world, rather along the lines of "The Hero with a Thousand Faces." You can find information about it here:

    The Perennial Apocalypse
    How the End of the World Shapes History


    Here are some of the shorter things I have written specifically on this subject. Just click on the underlined words to see them. Please note that many of the pieces which appear elsewhere on my website, particularly under "History" and "Science," also bear on eschatology.