Transcendentalism and American-Anglo-European power politics
Posted on May 8th, 2011

By Mario Perera, Kadawata

Advaita and Transcendentalism are two perspectives of existence that are literally poles apart and irreconcilable. The former is a fundamental tenet of the Asian mind and outlook, whereas the latter expresses the Christianity influenced Western perspective on that subject.

Advaita means non dual or not two. This Oneness is said to be the fundamental quality of everything. Duality has nothing to do with being separate but with appearing to be different. Things can appear different without being separate. It is a belief, principally among Asian civilizations that there is a Oneness within all life of which we are but the infinite number of different expressions. That we confound being different and being separate is ascribed to ignorance. On the other side there is what is called transcendentalism, where this Oneness is considered as being over, above and beyond all else. The upholders of this interpretation consider being separate as the hard insurmountable reality and truth.

Transcendentalism is what describes best the world scenario of power politics which we are not only being made to witness, but also forced to take part in, sometimes as actors and at other times as applauding spectators. To put in other terms, the difference is between the unreachable and “ƒ”¹…”untouchable’ Transcendent and the rest. In the Asian social context, “ƒ”¹…”untouchable’ has to do with what is “ƒ”¹…”low’, “ƒ”¹…”base’ and “ƒ”¹…”unclean’. However unlike the connotation of the term in our socio-cultural sphere, “ƒ”¹…”untouchable’ in the present context of Western power politics paradoxically refers to the “ƒ”¹…”Transcendental’. It is this “ƒ”¹…”low, base and unclean transcendentalism’ that pervades international power politics with it self proclaimed inherent right to “ƒ”¹…”touch’, violate and desecrate everything else while itself remaining “ƒ”¹…”untouched’. The Moon-Darusman report and the violation of territorial sovereignty and international rights of individuals and nations in the presently unfolding wars and even the manner of the killing of Bin Laden are but tips of that iceberg which is Western transcendental power politics.

That nations are different is no secret. But the emphasis and capitalizing on differences with a view to inducing isolation and separation has lead to disaster for some and gain for those relying on their transcendental attributes. At one time the formula was clearly an “ƒ”¹…”I-You’ one, and when confrontations occurred they took the form of two boxers in the ring. This “ƒ”¹…”I-You’ separation was then resolved not by consensus and compromise but by one knocking out the weaker in a show of unfettered force. Then, as ABBA sang, “ƒ”¹…”the winner took it all, the loser had to fall’. The winning and grabbing was by nothing else than the power of the clout. The opponent was floored not by any other power but by that, being brute physical strength best illustrated by the word “ƒ”¹…”colonization’ now called neo-colonization in its application to the present context.

Then like in the case of Greece and Rome where the vanquished culturally conquered the conqueror, the “ƒ”¹…”I-You’ schema resulted through frequentation, discovery and appreciation, in some respect for the “ƒ”¹…”other’. This was roughly the period of de-colonization with the formation and regrouping of new States, coincident with the end of the Second World War. That was the period when nations were stretching their hands towards one another as mutual props, indicating the “ƒ”¹…”I need You’ version of international relations.

Then came the cold war and the polarization of “ƒ”¹…”power blocs’ when a new axiom appeared on the wall which was, “ƒ”¹…”if YOU are not with me you are against me’. The I-YOU distinction was vanishing tending as it was towards moral identification of the two. It was “ƒ”¹…”moral’ considering that this identification was mostly on ethical grounds of the ones being “ƒ”¹…”good’ with “ƒ”¹…”freedom’ and justice’ on their side, in contrast with those on the other side of the divide who were considered to be personifications of evil with all its attributes, especially the suppression of “ƒ”¹…”freedom’. That was the period when the slogan of “ƒ”¹…”human rights’ was being flaunted in gay abundance by the West for self glorification of themselves as the “ƒ”¹…”good guys’. That was also the ƒÆ’†’©poque of “ƒ”¹…”comics’ depicting cowboys and crooks.

And now we are witnessing the zenith of the development of that very same trend. The “ƒ”¹…”I-You’ equation has undergone a radical change with the “ƒ”¹…”You’ being totally eliminated. The “ƒ”¹…”I’ has assumed complete hegemony, moral and physical, over the “ƒ”¹…”You’ which has been appropriated by the former and now expressed in the relationship: I-ME or “ƒ”¹…”You are ME’. In other words only “ƒ”¹…”I’ am, and you will be permitted to be if you are with me and for me. With the effacement of the dual “ƒ”¹…”power bloc’ system of world government, the all conquering economic power, the American-Anglo-European one also necessarily resurrected the moral traits it seemed to abhor in the “ƒ”¹…”other’ and has overtly assumed those “ƒ”¹…”evil’ attributes it projected on the “ƒ”¹…”other’ into its own self identity or “ƒ”¹…”I’.

Duality however is a necessity for power display, and the all enclosing Transcendental “ƒ”¹…”I’ creates the divisions at will and pleasure with ad hoc “ƒ”¹…”You’ entities who are the weak and the powerless. The latter can neither resist, oppose nor even appeal against its Transcendental oppressor over, above and beyond them and thus beyond every semblance of recrimination and reproach, enjoying total immunity and anesthetized against its own moral iniquity and turpitude.

Previously the “ƒ”¹…”other’ was the mirror in which the “ƒ”¹…”I’ saw itself as it was. Now the latter is its own mirror only seeing its own power and enjoying the ecstasy and bliss of its own display: double standards, contradictions, violations of rights of States, and the most glaring of all, brazen anesthetization, immunity and total absence of any vestige of shame in its own nakedness. All this was on display in the murder of bin Laden, and the leading voice of the “ƒ”¹…”band of disgrace’ announced the deed with a liberal sprinkling of “ƒ”¹…”I’, the one letter word which is the standard and flag of the universal hegemony of the hypocritical “ƒ”¹…”good’ now totally and unashamedly devoid of that mask, being over, above and beyond as the unassailable uncontested ONE and ONLY “ƒ”¹…”Transcendental’, distinct, different and separate from the rest. Indeed to the question about rights individual and international, he could well have replied: “I am Monarch of all I survey; my right there is none to dispute”.

Transcendentalism is not purely a Christian religious philosophy. Its political fall out through the American-Anglo-European power bloc is more than obvious.

2 Responses to “Transcendentalism and American-Anglo-European power politics”

  1. Geeth Says:

    I glad to see Sri Lankans now trying to find some ideological illumination, analytical explanation for this widely assumed ‘irrational’ behavior of the west, especially in their global politics. Five years ago, this kind of articles would have been faded away unnoticed. None would have had any valid reasons to write one either. But the time has changed. Although most of us have thought that west is behaving irrational in many occasions such as when they display their inability of recognizing terrorism in our part of the world, in reality, their behavior is completely rational; but it is rational only to a specific standard understandable through a specific thought process which is, for obvious reasons, inconceivable to our way of thinking. This difficulty revel the existence of two different way of thinking in our world, one in the west and the other in the east. What is this difference has been the most difficult quest our time.

    In order to add few words to continue Mario’s quest, I thought of writing this comment.

    Considering Advaita as a component of Vaidic (Vedantic) philosophy, I am not sure if Vaidic thought along has influenced in shaping up the entire Eastern thought. But for sure, Christianity and especially protestant thinking has its hallmark in the entire western thought and their politics.

    If the fundamental purpose of philosophy is to interrogate our existence, it is clear that Eastern philosophy is epistemologically universal in its pure sense but western philosophy is not. Within my limitations of knowledge, I have noticed that the western philosophy has approached to existence as a worldly issue whereas eastern philosophy treats the entire issue as a universal one. For Eastern philosophy, human existence can never be separated from the entirety of the universe. So this “Eastern belief of oneness, with all its infinite number of differences, must have been derived from such totality.

    But in contrary, western world has viewed this issue in different perspective. This is the exact location where Christianity plays its pivotal role in western philosophy I think. In western thought, there is a big damn God – like a Berlin wall – between the universe and the human world. For Christian world view, universe is essentially a godly domain of full of mystics and then human existence essentially limits to the worldly sphere of earth. Under this thought, for English, queen of England is the worldly agent of God on earth. Paying taxes to maintain this monarch must be considered as fulfillment of an obligation to the God. From the part of the ruler, waging war, supporting regional terrorists, killing innocent civilians, maintaining double standard in HR violations, is a way of his fulfillment of God’s will.

    Moreover, the words “that nations are different is no secret. But the emphasis and capitalizing on differences with a view to inducing isolation and separation has led to disaster for some and gain for those relying on their transcendental attributes” opens a can of ideological worms. Western sciences, and ideology preserves Christian fundamentals in their very foundations. Western philosophy, anthropology, theory of evolution strengthens the transcendence of western man above the rest of humanity, especially in post Columbian era.

    However, to western man, human world is existing due to god’s desire and therefore its continuity or demise is also determined by God. On the other hand this world of entire human race, with all its disparities and deformities, is a god given thing; under which, international politics is also a worldly affair but still prevail under god’s will.

    Discovery of Amerindia, annihilation of innocents, colonialism, slavery, apartheid, racism are all part of God’s will. Creation a Hitler is also occurs as a part of God’s will; because without him it would have been a nonstarter of a new world order in post war era. Given due consideration to creationism, all existing aberrations and injustices in the global arena therefore, are also tantamount to god’s will.

    To this concept, UNSG becoming a stooge of western thieves is also god’s will and the trio of little thieves trying to mislead the entire world is also a god’s will. If we believe in this theory, we can find that so-called God is the biggest thief. Halleluiah!!

    I wrote this comment to appreciate this article. Mario, please write more articles in this caliber. Thanks.

  2. mario_perera Says:

    Dear Geeth,
    Thank you for your very interesting commentary and clarifications.
    With kindest regards.

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