Category Archives: intellect
This is an expanded version of a post I wrote on medium.com, a shared platform for bloggers.
I came to realize, as I began to understand capitalism, that money is a kind of prison. You’re only free when you can afford to break the rules. But as you build wealth, it is imperative that one follow the rules; be a miser, a Scrooge, sometimes in the extreme. Then it dawned on me that thought can be its own kind of prison. I used to think that even prison would not be such a bad fate as long as I had my thoughts. I realized as I spent more and more time at work, and less at school, that one of the insidious things about mental work (even of a menial variety), as opposed to physical work, is that it monopolizes one’s ability to mull things over, in short, to think.But then even “free” thought might not be so free. We become trapped in the frameworks that others create, over time.
The social theorist Theodor Adorno described modern culture as an open prison, in which seemingly free people censor themselves partly due to the “culture industry” of mass media, which established norms and constraints on behavior.
Linguist Noam Chomsky describes the way that the media engages in self-censorship as one in which the range of debate is narrowed, but within that narrow range very lively debate occurs. Chomsky explained how media control worked in a book of the same name:
… liberal democratic theorists and leading media figures, like, for example, Walter Lippmann, who was the dean of American journalists, a major foreign and domestic policy critic and also a major theorist of liberal democracy. If you take a look at his collected essays, you’ll see that they’re subtitled something like “A Progressive Theory of Liberal Democratic Thought. ” Lippmann was involved in these propaganda commissions and recognized their achievements. He argued that what he called a “revolution in the art of democracy,” could be used to “manufacture consent, ” that is, to bring about agreement on the part of the public for things that they didn’t want by the new techniques of propaganda. (Chomsky, Media Control, p.14)
Most Americans have no idea of the full range of political options available due to the two-party system. For Europeans, larger extremes are at least considered in their multi-party systems – parties like the Green Party, Communists, Scottish Nationalists, Royalists and others have seats in Europeans parliaments (even though the results are often similar, with centrist parties usually forming the ruling coalitions).
Economically, the situation is similar. Finland’s plan to give all citizens a basic income, for example, is a kind of test of the freedom of thought. The idea that increasing productivity would free people from work was a prediction that was long in coming. Alaska, Brunei, some Indian nations have had basic income, but those are special cases, based on oil or some special status — Finland is the first country to do it that’s not some special case. We have been hamstrung by a capitalist logic of scarcity for so long that a trend that even Marx could see in mid-nineteenth century Britain is only now beginning to come to fruition. And if a basic income can free people from work, what does it free them to do? Among other things, to think more. And from that thought will come more ideas; a singularity of thought. This may be overstating the case, but as Slavoj Zizek put it, “don’t act, just think.”
I also posted my piece “On Consciousness” on medium.com.
The effort for Federal recognition of Native Hawaiians for the purposes of creating a governing entity went through three stages, or attempts: The Akaka Bill, direct recognition by the Department of Interior and the rule change.
Dept. of Interior (DOI) Hearings:
In this latest (and what seems to be the most successful) attempt DOI looked to reestablish government-to-government relationship between Federal government and Native Hawaiian community. On June 18, 2014, the DOI stated,
The Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) is considering whether to propose an administrative rule that would facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community, to more effectively implement the special political and trust relationship that Congress has established between that community and the United States. The purpose of this advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) is tosolicit public comments on whether and how the Department of the Interior should facilitate the reestablishment of a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community. In this ANPRM, the Secretary also announces several public meetings in Hawaii and several consultations with federally recognized tribes in the continental United States to consider these issues.
Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell stated “The Department is responding to requests from not only the Native Hawaiian community but also state and local leaders and interested parties who recognize that we need to begin a conversation of diverse voices to help determine the best path forward for honoring the trust relationship that Congress has created specifically to benefit Native Hawaiians.” Public hearings throughout Hawaii, from June 23 to August 8, 2014, which I wrote about in the Nation magazine, asked 5 “Questions to be Answered:”
- Should the Secretary propose an administrative rule to recreate a government-to-government relationship with the Native Hawaiian community?
- Should the Secretary assist the Native Hawaiian community in reorganizing its government?
- What process should be established for drafting and ratifying a reorganized Native Hawaiian government’s constitution or other governing document?
- Should the Secretary instead rely on reorganization through a process established by the Native Hawaiian community and facilitated by the State of Hawaii, to the extent such a process is consistent with Federal law?
- If so, what conditions should the Secretary establish as prerequisites to Federal acknowledgment of a government-to-government relationship with the reorganized Native Hawaiian government?
On September 29th, 2015, the DOI released the rule change. UH Law Professor Williamson Chang released the following statement in response:
The Department of Interior issued its long awaited proposed rule as to a Native Hawaiian Governing body. It was not much. The Federal Government is giving very little. If this is the last word on the federal government and Hawaiians, from the point of view of the United States’ the history of Hawaii ends with a “whimper not a bang”
1. It starts by noting that only the written comments counted, not the vehement oral testimony.
2. It is premised on false history: At page 6 of the long document, it states the Republic of Hawaii ceded its lands to the United States and that Congress passed a joint resolution annexing the Hawaiian Islands. Accordingly, all that follows flows from a flawed premise: The United States acquired the Hawaiian Islands and has jurisdiction. Moreover, it claims that the United States has title to the crown and government lands.
3. Even so, it gives very little. It would make a consenting Native Hawaiian government “just like” a tribe, but not a tribe.
4. The law that applies to tribes would not apply to the Hawaiian entity. Congress would have to explicit[ly] write Hawaiians in to Indian programs—just as it is today. No gain.
5. It admits that the purpose of the proposed rule is to protect Hawaiians from constitutional attacks on Hawaiian-only entitlement programs. The Department of the Interior, however, does not control the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court would still be free to strike down Hawaiian only programs if it so desired.
6. The Hawaiian governing entity gets no lands by this proposal
7. The proposal does not affect Federal holdings or title to the Crown and Government lands.
8. There is to be no compensation for past wrongs.
9. The rule limits the Hawaiian government to Hawaiians only.
10. Only one Hawaiian government can establish a relationship with the Federal Government under this proposal.
11. It precludes federal recognition of a restored Kingdom of Hawaii, or Provisional Government that would become a State either as a Kingdom or any other.
12. The Hawaiian Government cannot be in violation of “federal laws” such as the prohibition on ‘titles” in the U.S. Constitution—thus no quasi-Kingdom either.
In summary—and this is from a very brief reading. I may be in error, I may have overlooked various important sections, but in the name of getting this to you as soon as possible. Here is the link to the proposal, its supporting documents and frequently asked questions.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking read:
The U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing to create an administrative procedure and criteria that the Secretary of the Interior would apply if the Native Hawaiian community forms a unified government that then seeks a formal government-to-government relationship with the United States. Under the proposal, the Native Hawaiian community — not the Federal government — would decide whether to reorganize a Native Hawaiian government, what form that government would take, and whether it would seek a government-to-government relationship with the United States.
The proposal, which takes the form of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), builds on more than 150 Federal statutes that Congress has enacted over the last century to recognize and implement the special political and trust relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian community. The NPRM comes on the heels of a robust and transparent public comment period as part of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) process that began last year and included public meetings. More than 5,000 members of the public submitted written comments to the ANPRM, and they overwhelmingly favored creating a pathway for re-establishing a formal government-to-government relationship.
Members of the Hawai’i Congressional delegation predictably responded in favor of the rule change, as did Governor Ige. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statement was perhaps the most substantive:
Many indigenous groups in the U.S. have the right of self-determination, and today’s announcement acknowledges that that right also belongs to the Native Hawaiian people, one of the largest native communities in the country. These rules incorporate over 5,000 public comments submitted to the Department of Interior (DOI), and should they be adopted, the Native Hawaiian community will have the option to re-establish a unified government and self-determine their future relationship with the federal government. I encourage all interested parties to submit their comments to DOI during the 90-day public review period to ensure a collaborative final ruling.
The list of candidates for delegate to the constitutional convention was released by Na’i Aupuni the next day. It can be viewed here, but prominent candidates included John Aeto, Keoni and Louis Aagard, OHA trustee Rowena Akana, former Mayor Dante Carpenter, Prof. Williamson Chang, Jade Danner, Prof. Lilikala Kame’eleihiwa, Senator Brickwood Galleria, Adrian Kamali’i, Sovereignty leader Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, Colin Kippen, Prof. Daviana McGregor, former OHA administrator Clyde Namu’o, and Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. director Moses Haia, among many others.
There is a question of whether the rule change gives the kind of legal protection that was the point of Federal recognition, or if it is merely a Federal sanction of a process already happening. The Hawai’i Independent ran a story questioning the validity of the rule change:
“We have to remember that this process started with the State of Hawai‘i, not the Hawaiian people,” [Andre] Perez told The Independent over the phone. “Hawaiians did not initiate or pass Act 195, which created Kana‘iolowalu. The state legislature did, and gave the governor the power to appoint members to the commission. True self-determination does not come with a state-initiated, state-controlled process like this.”
Keanu Sai happened to speak to my class the day after the rule change. As I pondered the question of whether this was a victory for the Fed Rec set, it seemed to have no effect on Sai’s view that it was simply more Federal legislation inapplicable in foreign (Hawaiian) territory.
The philosopher Daniel Dennett tells a funny story: he says when he’s at a party and someone asks him what he does, and he says he’s a professor, their eyes glaze over. When he’s at a party of professors and one asks him what his field is and he says “philosophy,” their eyes glaze over. And when he’s at a party of philosophers, and one asks him what he studies and he says “consciousness,” their eyes glaze over. So the philosophy of consciousness is not something that inspires excitement in even the most scholarly among us, but I argue here that it is precisely where we’ve gone astray and is the solution to most of the problems we – the modern world – face.
I’ve written at some length about the idea of development, that is, that we change and grow over time. This is an idea about which most modern societies have some ambiguity; we both know and do not know that it is going on. We all know that children develop – that phases of development are natural and normal, and it is normal for your two year old to be self-centered in a way that would make an adult appear like a psychopath. But then we have the idea that development somehow stops at some magical age – between 18 and 21 – after which we are “all equal.” And yet we also know that this is not true, which is why you have to be 35 to be president of the United States, and no undergrads are tapped to be university presidents. What I’m saying is not new agery, but standard developmental psychology: development continues on throughout adulthood and most never come anywhere near the “end” point.
But what I want to address here is not so much the level of consciousness, but the state of consciousness prevalent in the modern West (and increasingly, the East). I was prompted to this by a “banned” TED talk by Graham Hancock, who makes a strong case that there is something like a conspiracy against certain states of consciousness. Now Hancock holds that these preferable states are accessible through certain psychotropic plants – he is not the first I’ve heard say that it is highly likely that the substances used in the ancient mystery schools (of which Plato was probably a member) were psychotropic. I don’t condone the use of these substances, in fact I’m fairly neutral on them, but Hancock also argues persuasively that the societally approved drugs – particularly ones like caffeine and ritalin – promote a state that, while good for problem-solving, is not conducive to examining the moral questions we face. This may be why the “best and the brightest” of our societies have brought us the nuclear bomb, GMOs and a generally more dangerous world. They know “what” to do but not “why” it should be done – it shouldn’t.* This “rational” state that we are encouraged to remain in makes us good cogs in the gigantic machines we are all part of, thoughtlessly commuting to jobs that generally make the world worse.
It is my view that these preferred states are accessible without any substances; through introspection and perhaps meditation, though they probably do require the elimination of the “approved” substances and daily stresses. Hancock is quite compelling in his argument that the prevalent state of consciousness has created most of the problems we see around us and that they cannot be solved from that same state of consciousness, but require another.
- For those who would accuse me of being anti-science: I’m not recommending going back to what was before science, but going beyond it – putting science into a larger framework which factors in moral considerations.
What I would have said at the Hoʻokuʻikahi Reconciliation service on Jan. 17 if I’d had more time:
The great psychologist Carl Jung said:
There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything to avoid facing their souls.
I noted in my talk at St. Andrew’s Cathedral that it felt strange at first to be addressing a topic as seemingly secular as sovereignty in that space. But I soon realized that reconciliation isnʻt secular at all – it is about consciousness. Reconciliation is about consciousness because it requires the taking on and consideration of other perspectives. This taking on of new perspectives, according to Integral theorist Ken Wilber, is the very definition of “cognitive,” which is why much of the anti-intellectualism that runs through the spiritual movement is misplaced.
When organizing the service, Kahu Dr. Kaleo Patterson used a phrase that caught my attention: “mindful nationalism.” It caught my attention because Iʻve always found the use of the term nationalism in the Hawaiian movement somewhat alarming. People who are familiar, or who can remember the horrors of the nationalist movements of the early- and mid-twentieth century would find the term even more alarming. So the descriptor “mindful” is absolutely crucial here – it makes clear that ours will not be the mindless nationalism of so many independence and regime changing movements. It sets into the record that we will not use easy lines of division to exclude people from the nation that is being built here (even OHA uses the term nation-building), or perhaps restored.
The consciousness required of such a mindful nationalism requires development: conscious(ness) change over time. Developmental psychology shows that people, given a reasonably healthy social environment, develop (or “evolve”) over time in predictable ways that begin to include larger and larger groups into their “circle of self.” The prevailing mode in the social sciences and humanities – postmodernism – deconstructs hierarchies, and being sequential, development could be considered a hierarchy. This “flattening” of the social landscape creates what Robert Bly has called the “sibling society” – a society in which everyone is on the same level. Without parents, there is no agreement in such a society that some people, over time, gain true wisdom. Our culture’s obsession with youthful bodies has as its parallel an obsession with youthful (immature) consciousness. Witness reality TV, in which self-serving avarice is considered a virtue.
Partly because of this flattening, both sides of the political spectrum have become materialistic, but in different ways. Thought it claims to be spiritual, and likely is (in its own strange way) the right is pretty literally materialistic: it is the party of business, and its God wants you to be rich (this explains why the US is the only developed country that is both wealthy and religious). The left is materialistic in a different way: there is a Marxist thread throughout it that sees historical materialism as a driving force of history. The material history of class struggle is history itself. “History is the history of class struggle,” as Marx put it.
Because both sides are materialistic, progressive communities of faith are quite rare (religious but not materialistic in either of the ways described above). This is why, in my opinion, they comprise the majority of the small group of people occupying the “higher” levels of consciousness which we would all strive to reach, if only we knew they existed. In other words, science and modernity itself can put up obstacles to development. (This is not true in all cases, in fact, most of the notable quantum physicists were mystics).
When one can be driven by both the naʻau (literally “gut”, intuition) and the naʻauao (intelligence, enlightened consciousness), it is a profound state for effective decision-making and eventual reconciliation.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) have produced many of the most prominent African American figures in US history, including Martin Luther King (Morehouse, 1948), Spike Lee (Morehouse 1979), Toni Morrison (Howard, 1953), W.E.B. DuBois (Fisk, 1888), and Jesse Jackson (North Carolina A&T, 1964). The inner politics and purpose of a typical HBC are seen in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The idea was that traditional (read: white) colleges either did not admit African Americans or discriminated against them once they were there.
According to collegecures.com:
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) have been around since 1837, the first one being Cheney University in Pennsylvania.
Today there are 105 Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States. A lot of people questions whether they’re necessary or not, but these colleges and universities have done great things for the African American community.
While HBCU’s only make up 3% of the college institutions in the United States, 75% more African Americans graduate from an HBCU than any other school, and over half of America’s African American professionals have graduated from an HBCU.
Similar to Native American tribal colleges, their progressive approach was to create their own institutions, as much racism is institutional and therefore invisible. Similarly, Hawaiians are often discriminated against in institutions of higher education. These instances are hard to see when they happen, but clear when outcomes are examined; Hawaiians comprised at one point only 8% of students at the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa and only 2% of the faculty. This needs to be compared to Hawaiians’ 19% in the general population and 40-50% in the prison population. One Hawaiian educator, now in his 60s, relates that when he was in elementary school and said he wanted to go to college, his teacher said “Hawaiians donʻt go to college.”
We are a long way from that now, but many problems remain. Even Kamehameha graduates only complete college at a rate of between 48 – 68%, and as a group these are the highest performing Hawaiian students, as Kamehameha has a 7-10% acceptance rate and a 98% college acceptance rate.
Hawaiians have begun to redesign education at all levels, especially K-12, and experiment with alternative, and specifically Hawaiian pedagogy. The verdict remains out on these experiments, but relatively few have been performed at the tertiary level, partly because of institutional, state and Federal constraints.
This is not to disparage the real progress that has occurred at UHM’s Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, Hawaiʻinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge or UH Hilo’s Ka Haka ʻUla o Keʻelikōlani, but merely to offer another alternative. What does not exist is a Hawaiian liberal arts college.
It is beginning to become clear that the explosion in college costs can be attributed to the rise in non-teaching positions. For one college it was recently reported that of 19,000 employees, only 5,000 were teaching positions. Many of these positions were created with good intentions, but it canʻt be argued that it is fair to pass all these costs on to students, who are already drowning in debt.
What is implicated is a college that refocuses on teaching and is light on administration – such a model could keep costs much lower than is currently considered normal. Lecturers are already teaching for as little at $1000 per course at local colleges, so teaching talent is not expensive to attract. 70% of all teaching faculty in US universities today are lecturers, and less than a quarter are tenured faculty.
I am suggesting a private college that could charge tuition under $5000 per year by eliminating non-teaching positions. Its private status could be used to avoid the many restrictions which force public institutions into creating expensive “specialist” and administrative positions.
I grew up from age 9 around the campus of the only private, non-religious college in the South Pacific, Atenisi University. Atenisi has existed – though several times this existence has been in jeopardy – since 1975, charging tuition of around $100 (Tongan – about $200 USD) per year, with no government or church support, or grants. This brainchild of the great Tongan sage Futa Helu is probably where I got the notion that such an institution is possible. A New Zealand film maker was inspired enough to make a documentary about Helu and Atenisi, linking them to the Tongan democracy movement (Atenisi is a transliteration of Athens):
Similarly, frustrated by the increasingly corporate-driven model of academia, the scholars Creston Davis and my PhD class/cohort-mate Jason Adams started their own university, the Global Center for Advanced Studies. GCAS features on its faculty many of the top philosophers and theorists in the world, such as Slavoj Zizek and Gayatri Spivak. Alain Badiou, formerly chair of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure and who Zizek has called “Hegel walking amongst us” is its Honorary President.
Adams formed another school in 2014, the New Centre for Research and Practice, in Michigan.
There is beginning to be a small group of Hawaiian college administrators who could lead such an institution. As Ron Paul has noted, the current college funding system (debt – $1 trillion of it) is broken. This is just an idea of an alternative that could return university study to what it was originally meant to be – a place of teaching, learning and the building of skills, rather than a machine processing the monies from tuition, grants and sports. If nation-building is a serious goal for Hawaiians – and it is – an institution to educate our people our way is crucial.
AT the lower levels of education – preschool and elementary – teachers know, intuitively or explicitly that they are dealing with children who are developing. This development is far from merely academic. Some are still potty-training and developing emotional resources to deal with the outside world. By high school, it tends to be assumed that we are dealing with mini-adults, and their issues with being functional and serious are attributed to “immaturity,” which is seen almost as a character flaw. But developmental psychology shows that during the high school years, there is one discrete phase that young people go through. Some call it “fulcrum three” – the first fulcrum, or pivot point being around five months, and the second around the time of potty training (two-ish). In each of these phases a discrete sense of self is developed. First, the sense that the child is not the mother, and second, an individual ego sense develops.
It is not until about age fifteen that children begin to break out of this egoic phase, and realize that they are part of larger structures – nation, community, tribe. Hawaiian educators spend a lot of time teaching that “itʻs a kākou thing” – i.e., that there is a collective dimension to an individual’s existence, and as self-identified “Hawaiian educators” we view the Hawaiian nation as the primary structure of this emerging identity. But I doubt that most do this consciously, and hence attribute any failure to societal or familial disfunction, when in fact it is normal growth, not yet completed.
We need to begin thinking of the teaching of higher grades, and college, as a extension of the process begun in pre- and elementary school. We also need to realize that this growth is by its nature slow, and can continue well beyond fulcrum three. Models that look for quick growth – within a year or even a semester – are therefore very flawed and likely detrimental to healthy development.