Category Archives: intellect

The Other Lost Generation

The realization is slowly dawning on scholars  that because precarious adjunct work is the new norm in academia, a generation (going on two generations) of scholarship has been lost. What could have come out of this generation had they been offered normal, full-time academic positions? It’s really impossible to say, but if we look back at what previous generations brought us, it may give an inkling of the potential that has been, and is being squandered by the pay-per-student university model, as 70% of the academic teaching workforce are now  lecturers.  Just a sampling of the traditional model of the academy shows its fruits:

The late-nineteenth century brought us existentialism, early theories of modernity, Nietzsche’s theories of power, atheism, Marxism, anarchism and young Hegelians.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.04.21 AM

Friedrich Nietzsche

The first lost generation (WWI) brought us Freud’s ego, id and superego, Jung’s collective unconscious, and Husserl’s phenomenology.

With the WWII generation, we gained Arendt’s  banality of evil, Heiddeger’s dasein,  Marcuse’s one dimensional man, and the insights of Walter Benjamin and the Frankfurt school in general.

Though the glut in PhDs began with them, the boomers gave us postmodernism, Derrida’s deconstruction, liberation theology, Said’s orientalism, and many of the critical and areas studies (Women’s studies, Black/African American Studies, Ethnic Studies).

Generation X was the first to be hit with “adjuctivitis,” and it has shown – ours is not really associated with any major intellectual movements. Just more postmodernism and a vague sense of trying to catch up with our forebears, who seemed to think up this stuff between sips of champagne (World Wars notwithstanding), tea and some heavier stuff. On the contrary, in our time, the death of theory has been (albeit exaggeratedly) proclaimed. Now as the early millenials begin to enter the halls of academia, the prevailing mode is not liberation, but a new frugality, even while burdened with unprecedented debt.

If we are to take just the very rough outlines of these developments in thought, we find modernity (scientific rationality) and postmodernity (a simultaneous acceptance of multiple world views), which suggests the next development would have been “beyond” postmodernism. One approach, which I have written extensively about, was ironically (or perhaps not so ironically) developed outside academia: Integral. As integral takes the best of both modernity (the use of reason) and postmodernity (the understanding that truths are context-dependent), it seems feasible that it could be, or could have been, a next step. As Generation X grew up at the cusp of liberalism (Carter) and conservatism (Reagan), it also seems feasible that it could be, or could have been, the first integral generation – inside or outside of the academy itself. Philosophers were not usually professors until Kant. Hegel was a high school teacher until he was 46. Though many had some type of patronage – from the time of Aristotle through Rousseau – academic posts are not the only way to be productive. It’s just that we have yet to find a better model.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, intellect, mind, Uncategorized

Reflective Practice #2: What is a “Teacher?”

gu·ru

 noun \ˈgr-(ˌ)ü, ˈgü-(ˌ)rü also gə-ˈrü\

: a religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism

: a teacher or guide that you trust

: a person who has a lot of experience in or knowledge about a particular subject

– Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Teaching is a flatland. A dead end position. Unless one plans to go into administration, there are no promotions, only raises. You start out as a teacher and end up 30-plus years later as a “teacher.” But are you the same person 30 years later? This is one of those areas in which we as a society and a profession practice a kind of double think: we both know and do not know that a beginning teacher and a veteran teacher are not the same. A veteran teacher makes more money, but does not necessarily command more authority; in fact, they may have not the slightest amount of extra authority than a new teacher.

Itʻs an ironic situation in which the new teacher works very hard for little results, and the veteran produces large results with little effort: is it actually more money for less work? Because research shows that new teachers, on average, have no effect on student learning. On the other hand, I remember teachers who worked 45 years and seemed just as stressed, or even more so, than the new ones. Thereʻs also a very sharp learning curve in the first 5 years. Some improve rapidly and one can tell that they were meant to teach. Others do not improve and will remain mediocre their entire careers. So itʻs do-or-die in this period, and yes, the poor performers are often protected by unions and/or tenure, and hard to get rid of. But incentives to improve are very skewed. They assume the kind of motivation (external motivation) that people in business exhibit, when most teachers, even bad ones, are internally motivated – which is why they often donʻt mind the flat, dead end nature of the profession.

But it is more complicated: the question can become “more effective for whom?” In my first year teaching, I was not effective. I taught low performing students at a high-poverty school. Even though I was one of the only teachers who could pronounce their names – I remember a student named Ioakimi Seumanutafa who was shocked out of his mind that I could say his name on the first roll call – I did not speak, look or act like someone from their community (even though I was, sort of). The next year, I took a position at my alma mater and was able to make students engaged and excited about Hawaiian history. I was one of them. So there are intangible factors, such as a teacher’s own background, that help determine “effectiveness.” Itʻs more complicated still: having only teachers who are like the students creates a kind of incestuousness of ideas that harms learning. [It is precisely these teachers who are at risk of falling into the negative attributes associated with the “guru” above – cultivating a cult-like following.] And then there are some teachers manage to be effective no matter who they work with.

It is for these reasons and this diversity within the profession that I favor the “Master teacher” model. Most systems for choosing master teachers are likely flawed, but the concept at least recognizes that “teachers” are a diverse lot indeed: some are balancing kids, commutes and second (or third) jobs, others simply live to teach, with no other encumbrances on their time. Being in one category does not equate with being a poor or high quality teacher, but certainly it is harder to be effective in the first category. Again, perhaps ironically, veteran teachers tend to fall into the first category and younger teachers into the second, so there may be a kind of balancing out that occurs.

Criteria for master teachers could include: National Board certification, Doctoral degrees (in education and/or the subject area taught), observations and evaluations or some other, hybrid process. Either way, it is time for our “egalitarian” society and profession to recognize that all teachers are not the same, and effort is not the only factor explaining the differences.

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, Education, intellect, Uncategorized

My article in The Nation – the original

There were several versions, but you may be able to see the difference between the final version and this one below: The Nation edited it to be more colloquial (I wasnʻt too happy about that) but also had one of the most rigorous fact checking regimens of any US publication (that was good). I didnʻt have many “wrong” points, but had to “tone down” some of the language from this original. Also, some had to be cut for their (restrictive for this topic) 1000-word limit. But The Nation is the oldest weekly newsmagazine in the US. Founded in 1865, it is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year (2015). It is also the most important media outlet of the left, and I was quite proud to write for them. You should see some significant differences in turns of phrase and the way data is presented.

On June 24th, in the conference room of the Hawaiʻi State Capitol in Honolulu, Native Hawaiians gathered for the first of several hearings held by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) throughout the Hawaiian Islands as well as on the U.S. continent. The hearings were held to ask Native Hawaiians for input on the formation of a Federally recognized nation. Surprisingly, after decades of endeavoring to achieve such a status, the overwhelming response to the panel of DOI officials was “aʻole” – no. At the Honolulu hearing, Political Science Professor Noelani Goodyear-Kaʻōpua questioned the “reestablishing of a relationship” between the Federal government and the Native Hawaiian community, when no relationship existed other than the treaty relationships with the Hawaiian Kingdom. She asked DOI to recognize that “you are on our land,” proposed “free, prior and informed consent” and neutral international monitoring. Several speakers also reminded DOI that Hawaiʻi was previously a neutral, multi-ethnic country, and stated that the descendants of its non-native citizens were now being disenfranchised. Between two and five percent at all the hearings spoke in favor, including Hawaiian Roll Commissioner Naʻalehu Anthony, who said he did not want to pass the struggle on to his son after watching three generations fight for Hawaiian rights.

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 11.44.16 AM

Mainstream media coverage focused on tone, rather than content and missed the real story, which was that a shift in Hawaiian political will and a consensus had emerged over the proper route to sovereignty. In a community known for its divisiveness, this shift was quite stunning. Under the radar, a new view of Hawaiian history had taken hold, one in which debates over the history of the Hawaiian Kingdom, overthrown in 1893, were at the center.

Unified in 1810 by King Kamehameha I, Hawaiʻi was recognized internationally as a sovereign, independent country beginning in 1843. Fifty years later, the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi had treaties with nearly all the sovereign states in existence, including five with the US. In 1893, Queen Liliʻuokalani was overthrown by sugar businessmen backed a company of US Marines. President Cleveland called this unauthorized intervention an “act of war,” withdrew the proposed annexation treaty and agreed to reinstate Liliʻuokalani. On Feb February 9th, 1893, The Nation wrote, “We could not by annexation at the moment gain anything which we do not now possess.” A standoff between the President and Congress over the question of annexation prevented any action for five years.

When William McKinley took office in 1897, he attempted a second treaty, but this failed in the Senate, in part because of petitions opposing annexation. When the Spanish-American war broke out the following year, McKinley and annexationists in Congress led by Alabama Senator (and Ku Klux Klan “Dragon”) John Tyler Morgan decided, in the words of Congressman Thomas Ball of Texas, “to do unlawfully that which can not be done lawfully.” In 1898 they purported to annex Hawaiʻi via Joint Resolution. While the Congress issued a formal apology to the Hawaiian people in 1993 “for the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii on January 17, 1893 with the participation of agents and citizens of the United States,” it is the subsequent annexation by resolution that lies at the heart of the current drama.

Those who accept that Hawaiʻi was annexed, legally or not, have pursued a course of Federal recognition leading to a limited form of “sovereignty.” This view is epitomized by former Governor John Waiheʻe, who said at the University of Hawaiʻi that one “would have to be illiterate” not to recognize the illegality of annexation, but questions how such a position would benefit Hawaiians. Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) Trustee Oswald Stender said more bluntly, on film, that Hawaiʻi was illegally annexed, but “so what?” The “domestic” approach to sovereignty first took form in the proposed Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act – the so-called “Akaka Bill” – named after its sponsor, the Native Hawaiian Senator Daniel Akaka. The bill circulated through Congress for twelve years before expiring with its sponsor’s retirement and the death of senior Senator Daniel Inouye in 2012. A new approach was devised in which the Department of Interior would propose “rule-making” changes that would allow Hawaiians to join the more than five hundred native nations already in existence. Fitting Hawaiians’ unique history into the template for Federal recognition has been a persistent challenge for advocates of this approach.

Others, taking the law at face value, find that if annexation was illegal, it is tantamount to saying that it did not occur at all. As a mere domestic instrument, a resolution, it is argued, cannot have effect in foreign territory. This means Hawaiʻi is under a prolonged military occupation, albeit one that the United States has not yet admitted to. The independence view was buoyed by a case in the International Court of Arbitration involving Hawaiʻi as an independent country. Hawaiʻi will also be listed in the 2013 War Report, a catalog of contemporary international conflicts published in Geneva, Switzerland, as an occupied state. The independence camp was given a further lift when in May, OHA CEO Kamanaʻopono Crabbe sent a letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry asking for “advisement” on possible breaches of international law stemming from OHA support of Federal Recognition. Unsurprisingly, the letter caused uproar on one side and prompted petitions of support on the other.

At its root, the conflict between supporters of independence and Federal recognition stems from divergent beliefs about law and power. Independence advocates view the international law and specifically the law of occupation as safeguards against the continuation of an illegally constituted, and essentially occupying, government – the State of Hawaiʻi. They call not for decolonization, but deoccupation, as was done in the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) upon the breakup of the Soviet Union. Federal recognition supporters are sometimes beneficiaries of Hawaiian “entitlements” such as the Federal Hawaiian Home Lands homesteading program or are U.S. military veterans, and argue that the United States would never allow a withdrawal regardless of Hawaiʻi’s legal status internationally. These views and the paths they imply appear to be mutually exclusive, making reconciliation difficult. Some suggest that a further reexamination of Hawaiʻi’s widely misunderstood history is implicated as the only route to any kind of reconciliation.

ʻUmi Perkins teaches Hawaiian history at the Kamehameha Schools and Political Science in the University of Hawaiʻi system.

Leave a comment

Filed under Globalization, Hawaiian history, intellect, Uncategorized

Defense Mechanisms

In her book Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, Anna Freud (daughter of Sigmund Freud) detailed multiple defense mechanisms used to avoid facing reality. By using these mechanisms, along with the overwhelming inertia of the State and Federal presence, and the vast ignorance of Hawaiian history, many people in Hawaiʻi are able to conveniently avoid facing the disturbing reality that they live on contested ground.

1. Denial – against all evidence, many will deny self-evident facts. Case in point: while reporting on the first Hawaiian college football star and scholar John Wise, KITV news put the Hawaiian Kingdom in quotes, as if it is debatable that it ever existed.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 2.06.04 PM

 This mechanism is closely related to cognitive dissonance, which Frantz Fanon described:

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesnʻt fit with the core belief.

2. Projection – One prominent environmentalist said that “Hawaiians are not environmentalists.” While it may be true that some Hawaiians litter, etc., this statement may in fact be projecting non-Hawaiian guilt over trashing the islands, which are actually becoming unrecognizable in terms of native species (there are none) and invasive species.

3. Sublimation – Pushing down feelings of horror is easy to do in Hawaiʻi, which seems to retain its beauty. But as noted above, this beauty is almost a cover for underlying environmental crises and mass extinction.

4. Regression – evading responsibility by adopting an infantile sense of our own power, is often seen in Hawaiʻi with its overwhelming military presence. An infantile argument from power, that the US “will never let it happen,” is substituted for reasoned argument.

5. Rationalization – We often see excuses that cleverly lead to the conclusion desired, such as the argument that Tahitians colonized Hawaiʻi’s original inhabitants.

6. Intellectualization – getting mired in the details of law can actually distract from the main, moral issue. Some sovereignty opponents do this, but not usually in a technical sense. One guilty of this, in my view, is Patrick Dumberry, who wrote an article on the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom case for the Chinese Journal of Internal Law. Dumberry states simply that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist, but offers no evidence, despite an extended legal analysis of the case. At the end of the article, he concedes that the Acting Hawaiian Kingdom has helped its cause, leaving some ambiguity in his opinion.

7. Displacement – Hawaiians are easy target for this mechanism, in which a substitution is made for a reality that is too difficult to accept. “Sovereignty” is therefore substituted with “going back into the loʻi,” ” giving up all technology” (as if only the US has technology), and “giving up all military defense” (when in fact saying that is itself the defense (mechanism).

Anna Freud held that most of us use at least five defense mechanisms every day! So the chances Iʻm right are quite high, just due to the prevalence of these mechanisms.

Leave a comment

Filed under intellect, Uncategorized

The Greatest Hawaiian Thinkers of All Time

I began to compile a list of the greatest Hawaiian thinkers of all time, but began to see my own biases coming through, so decided to put the question to a vote. So based on votes in groups on Facebook (Mooolelo: Hawaiian History being the main one, which has 1500 members), I’ve tallied the votes for the greatest Hawaiian thinkers of all time. A few caveats are necessarily stated here: the differences in votes were small because so many received votes, I didnʻt enforce the strict definition of “thinker” that Will Durant did to narrow down his list, and as one commenter noted, makaʻāinana and kauwa who built the nation remain nameless, but should be recognized. The vote seems to reflect Hawaiians’ emphasis on impact and action rather than abstraction. With those caveats aside, here’s your view of the greatest Hawaiian thinkers:

1. Mary Kawena Pukui

Author or co-author of the Hawaiian-English dictionaryOlelo Noeau, Hawaiian Planters, Nānā i ke Kumu, and other seminal texts, Pukui was researcher at Bishop Museum for 50 years and the foremost authority on Hawaiian culture.

Pukui

1. Joseph Nawahī

One of the most educated Hawaiians of the Kingdom period, Nawahī attended Hilo Boarding School, Lahainaluna and the Royal School (or Royal School of Kanehoa), edited newspapers, ran political parties, ran for office (successfully) and taught himself law. He is remembered as one of, if not the most significant Hawaiian patriot.

Nawahī

3. George Helm

The first martyr of the Hawaiian movement, Helm is known for his revolutionary actions, but he spent a lot of time in the Hawaiian collection studying culture to inform this action.

Hoʻohoʻi Hou – book on George Helm by Rodney Morales

4. Haunani-Kay Trask

Known worldwide among Indigenous activists and leftists, she was also Islander of the Year according to Honolulu Magazine in 1996. Trask’s status as a firebrand for sovereignty obscured the fact that she has been one of the most productive and accomplished of all Hawaiian scholars.

Trask

4. Kaleikoa Kaeo

Contemporary orator extraordinaire, Kaeo has been a force for Hawaiian “conscientization.” He often cites revolutionary leaders such as Steven Biko as a way of decolonizing the Kanaka mind.

Kaeo

4. Umi-a-Liloa

7. Liliʻuokalani

7. Herb Kane

7. David Malo

The author of Mooolelo Hawaii (Hawaiian Antiquities), Malo would have been first on my list, despite criticisms that he had the “zeal of the newly converted” Christian, apt to condemn aspects of Hawaiian culture. Malo was critically positioned: living early enough to be able to interview kupuna from before Cook, and recently enough to preserve pre-Cook Hawaiian cultural ways on paper.

7. Kalākaua

7. Kauikeaouli

7. Malia Craver

13. Joseph Poepoe

13. Mililani Trask

13. Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole

13. John K. Lake

13. Kepelino

13. George Kanahele

13. John Wise

13. Maʻilikūkahi

Others receiving votes:

Kamehameha I, Henry Papa Auwae, Samuel Kamakau, Nona Beamer, Kihei Da Silva, Hoapili, Ismael Stagner, James Kaulia, Moses Nakuina, Mataio Kekuanaoʻa, Iolani Luahine, Manookalanipō, John Dominis Holt, Edith McKenzie, Steven Haleʻole, Stephen Desha, Keanu Sai, Noenoe Silva, Puhipau, Jonathan K. Osorio, Peter Apo

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, Hawaiian history, intellect, Uncategorized

The Ten Greatest Thinkers of All Time (according to Will Durant)

UNDER CONSTRUCTION (Iʻm planning to clean this up ASAP)

An initial question may be plaguing you right at the outset: “Who the @*#% is Will Durant? And why should I believe him?” Well, Durant (1885 – 1981) was one of the preeminent historians of philosophy and ideas, with a PhD from Columbia (1912) and who is best known for his multi-volume work, written with Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization.

Will and Ariel Durant

 His 10 greatest thinkers of all time:

1. Confucius – This is an interesting choice for first, for several reasons. For one thing, Kung Fu Tsu (his non-latinized name) is the only non-European on the top ten (there are also notably no women – Durant was very old school). But perhaps more interestingly, when he himself met Lao Tzu (who may have been apocryphal, and is not on the list) Confucius said he had met someone with knowledge far beyond his own. But Durant defends his first choice by showing how the world’s largest and longest-lasting civilization still adheres to the precepts of the great sage (who was not apocryphal).

Confucius travelled as an itinerant teacher and advisor, teaching that harmony was the prime goal of society and that it could be achieved through filial obligation and respect. Confucius also practiced what he preached: he was mayor (or magistrate) of a town, which allegedly flourished with virtue under this philosopher-king.

2. Plato – As I wrote in my blog post on Plato:

When we read Plato we can’t be sure whether it is the philosopher himself, or his teacher Socrates. Sometimes this “voice” is called Platosocrates. Socrates called himself a “gadfly,” a kind of hindrance or pest who questions those who are said to have knowledge. I.F. Stone has criticized Socrates for his lack of commitment to a philosophy and says it represents instead a method of doing philosophy.

Plato


Socrates was convicted in Athens of corrupting  the youth and was sentenced to death, which traumatized Plato, who seemed to lose faith in Athenian democracy, and dedicated three dialogs to the trial, the most famous of which is The Apologywhich is not much of an apology, but rather an argument that those who claim to know, in fact know nothing, whereas he, knowing he knows nothing is wiser than all of them. Socrates was in a sense trying to prove the oracle of Delphi right – the oracle had proclaimed Socrates the wisest of all men.

But Iʻll let the sagacious Alain de Botton succinctly explain Plato:

3. Aristotle – As I wrote in my post on Aristotle:

Aristotle’s output was so monumental that it set the tone, in fact the content, little changed for over a thousand years in Europe, with Catholic scholastics synthesizing Aristotelian thought with Biblical scripture (although there is a fair amount of debate over the extent of his influence). His principal work can be grouped in nine basic categories:

1) Logic

2) Natural Science

3) Zoology

4) Psychology

5) Metaphysics (famously only called this because it came after the physics)

6) The Nichomachean Ethics

7) Politics (or, “On Statecraft”)

8) The art of oratory

9) The art of Poetry

It is impossible to summarize this output here, but possible to give a taste of his thought. The Metaphysics begins with questions on the nature of knowledge, and how we know (epistemology):
ALL men by nature desire to know. An indication of this is the delight we take in our senses; for even apart from their usefulness they are loved for themselves; and above all others the sense of sight. For not only with a view to action, but even when we are not going to doanything, we prefer seeing (one might say) to everything else. The reason is that this, most of all the senses, makes us know and brings to lightmany differences between things.

Again, Alain de Botton:

4. Thomas Aquinas – Aquinas was a reconciler. He made Aristotelian, Platonic and Neoplatonic thought (mainly seen in the work of the great Plotinus) resonate with scripture. This was the edifice upon which the entire European medieval consciousness would rest. He was dogmatic, but his sheer importance cannot be denied. According to biography.com:

St. Thomas Aquinas believed that the existence of God could be proven in five ways, mainly by: 1) observing movement in the world as proof of God, the “Immovable Motor”; 2) observing cause and effect and identifying God as the cause of everything; 3) concluding that the impermanent nature of beings proves the existence of a necessary being, God, who originates only from within himself; 4) noticing varying levels of human perfection and determining that a supreme, perfect being must therefore exist; and 5) knowing that natural beings could not have intelligence without it being granted to them it by God. Subsequent to defending people’s ability to naturally perceive proof of God, Thomas also tackled the challenge of protecting God’s image as an all-powerful being.

5. Copernicus – “And then came a voice out of Poland” begins Will Durant – and what a voice it was. The monkish scientist’s efforts to bring truth and understanding to the world brought instead the most radical decentering of human consciousness yet seen. In short, he made humanity grow up and humbled us down.

6. Francis Bacon – As I wrote in my post on Bacon, his goal:

was to integrate scientific understandings with classical (mainly Roman) wisdom. Ironically, after a meteoric rise in the court of King James I (under whom the King James bible was published), it was a swift fall that gave him the time to pursue these more cerebral goals.

King James I (1566 – 1625)

Despite having tremendous personal connections, Bacon floundered politically under Queen Elizabeth I, but James seemed to take a liking to him, knighting him and granting him several titles and positions, including his father’s, Attorney General, Viscount St. Albans, and Lord High Counsellor. A bribery scandal, which Bacon admitted to, led to a swift fall and time in the Tower of London, but also to an early retirement in which he followed his literary pursuits. Equally ironic was that Bacon’s utopia, New Atlantis, depicts an official who accepts bribes as “twice paid.”

7. Voltaire – When I read Candide the ludicrousness of its protagonist and his mentor only slowly began to dawn on me. Perhaps it is that we live (until recently) in an optimistic age, but Voltaire’s scathing mockery of his Pollyanna protagonist grates against modern sensibilities. Durant points out himself that a belief in progress is a comparatively new phenomenon, but Voltaire was certainly part of that phenomenon – he wanted to point out the problems from which progress could emerge.

8. Isaac Newton – One list I read of the greatest scientists of all time said that if one had to choose the second best scientist, it would be a nearly impossible task. But to the first was no contest: it was Isaac Newton. The Newtonian model of the cosmos – the “great clock” – was to be the basis of all progress of modern technology for nearly half a century.

9. Immanuel Kant – Pushing back against the materialist drive in physical and social sciences, Kant tried to reconcile Christian doctrines (“love thy neighbor as thyself”) with rational, moral philosophy. And he did it in a way that has pretty much held up to the present day. As my professor Michael Shapiro used to say, “we are all post-Kantists.” His categorical imperative secularized the “golden rule:”

Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.

 In other words, if everyone couldnʻt do what you are planning to do, donʻt do it – it would cause chaos, environmental destruction, or some type of harm.

10. Charles Darwin – I took a course on the “comparative reception” of scientific theories in the History of Science department at Harvard. What struck me was the Darwin’s thought had permeated so many fields of thought. My paper focused on Marx and Engels’s reception of evolutionary theory and selective adaptation and their reconciling it with historical materialism. They saw natural selection as a parallel with their theory of dialectical change in history – change came not through a divine plan (or telos), but through an interplay or conversation, between historical actors and forces. Some go further: Integral theory, for instance, sees evolution as “consciousness becoming conscious of itself.”

4 Comments

Filed under academia, intellect, Uncategorized

Reconciliation Redux

When Kahu Kaleo Patterson asked me to speak at the Hoʻokuʻikahi Reconciliation service at St. Andrew’s Cathedral on January 17th (it’s at 6), he used a phrase that caught my attention: “mindful nationalism.” Those familiar with the nationalist movements of the twentieth century, in Europe and other places, are keenly aware of the perils of nationalism, a concept Benedict Anderson called “imagined communities.” A mindful nationalism is needed at this time, when a war of consciousness (as Zuri Aki has called it) is being waged – simply look in the comment section of any article on sovereignty. Both sides in the debate are engaged in proving the other wrong, which may be a first step, but it cannot be the last.The last step must involve some kind of reconciliation.

 WHAT IS RECONCILIATION?

Ian McIntosh

Ian McIntosh, former director of  Cultural Survival (the oldest Indigenous rights organization in the US), and a mentor of mine, showed me how reconciliation is a multi-layered process. In that context, it is about addressing the divisions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous (his context was Australia) – divisions that have been caused by a lack of respect, knowledge and understanding.

Reconciliation is about recognizing the truth of a country’s history, and moving forward together with a commitment to social justice, and building relationships based on mutual understanding, respect and trust. Recognizing history may sound uncontroversial, but it was a key factor in the deoccupations of the Baltic states, whose histories were covered up by the Soviet occupation (1940-1990). To merely be able to speak openly about their histories was controversial in the extreme, and a major step toward liberation. I contend that history in Hawaiʻi is nearly as contentious.

But reconciliation is more than this – itʻs about a new consciousness. This consciousness is not really new – it may be the oldest thing on Earth – as Eckhart Tolle said, it may just be  “new to you.”

Iʻve written elsewhere about how postmodernism (the period weʻre sort of in) ignores development – the idea that people, even adults, evolve over time – and in doing so, must ignore the entire field of developmental psychology.  This creates what Robert Bly has called the “sibling society” – a society in which all are considered equal in every way is one which devalues the wisdom of experience. Men and women in the 1960s (yes, thatʻs when it started) were trying to dismantle illegitimate hierarchies, and rightly so, but ended up dismantling legitimate ones as well. A recent headline read “Hippie parents were just the worst.” But development is not about diminishing selfishness, but about expanding the meaning of “the self.”

One is reminded of the Buddhist quote:

Why are you unhappy?

Because 99.9 percent of everything you think,

And everything you do, Is for yourself,

And there isn’t one.

– Wei Wu Wei

Rather than a strictly political process, development, and therefore reconciliation, is about something we who live in late stage capitalist cultures are really bad at: cultivating the inner life.

But there is an outward, political dimension to reconciliation. In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission bridged the inner and outer dimensions of reconciliation, allowing catharsis but not revenge.

One could take advice from Bob Moses of the Mississippi Voting Project during the civil rights movement. When coalitions seemed to fall apart, he would always ask: “What can we agree on?” Issues like adult literacy were uncontroversial and allowed groups to reconvene when more controversial issues splintered them.

3 Comments

Filed under Globalization, Hawaiian history, intellect