…Numbered years, our train of heartbeats too, above the abyss hang, a cradle strung somewhere between the poles of birth and death, And as our cradle rocks, the Coronavirus strikes randomly at every milestone all along that route, Day and night, knocks down like flies, our fellow men and numbers rise, While somewhere on that route today, brides stand meters from the groom…
...I don’t care how green was your valley, how white is your snow, if we can’t make a profit what good is the snow so I don’t want to know….
(Extracts from my Covid Ode, 2020)
In your journey to Ithaca the World Philosophical Forum stands with you.
(To the incoming Prime Minister, 2019)
With growing inequality, new and emerging threats to population health, a neglect of public health with its proven track record can only lead to further disaster.
In the time of Covid, nuclear threat and climate change framed in a background of eavesdropping surveillance, socially demented and depleted consciousness are, dangerous threats to democratic society and to human existence. Social dementia provides no vision of enlightenment, no olive branch to wave and no culture to inspire, just a button to be pressed by accident or intent when the lights of Europe and all over the world, will go out, forever.
These are dark times, but thankfully with silver linings; our senses will never have enough of seeing, hearing, sensing; our cultivated cognition of striving in the direction of knowing, will never cease. History changes as a result of ideas (enlightenment), knowledge (latent heat and steam) revolution (Industrial, French, Russian), riots (so many) and battles (Vienna) as milestones that define its flow and what follows. Two and half millennia ago the concept of Western civilization emerged following on from the Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis with the overcoming by the few over the many, on land and sea. It divided East (Asia) and West (Europe) and lead to the free development of Mankind based on classical philosophy and Socrates.
The West’s identity was emergent as Europa a girl with the wide-eyed gaze from Tyre, clung willingly to the back of Zeus on their way to Crete. In Eastern Persian poetry it was Suleica. Know thyself was first uttered by the father of philosophy, Thales. Know thyself, and you will know the universe and the gods from Delphi.
In less than a year (2020), the world has been upended by a virus whose structure contains more than 30 thousand nucleotides and can only be seen through an electron microscope. The coronavirus and its forebears (SARS) is just one of 2.5 thousand different types and subtypes living in parallel with man as they have done so throughout his evolution. This one has devastated our physical bodies and undermined the social and cultural foundations of our lives. It has depleted reason and morality. Interventions to date have focused largely on reducing the rate of spread and flattening the case load curve. There is no treatment at hand, and no certainty of a vaccine soon.
How in 2020 did this virus suddenly enter into such sharp antagonism with humanity? Why did the situation on the planet suddenly go haywire and become almost unmanageable? Who can give a coherent answer to this? These are some of the questions posed by Igor Kondrashin a Russian philosopher, President, World Philosophical Forum (WPF). He does not see that the international community, national governments, universities or academies where scholasticism is prevalent have any answer to give, since they do not have real Philosophers within their organizations. His answer resides in classical philosophy. The key to our future lies in rethinking the core elements of education. Philosophy is about being one with nature and the world and freedom from conventional constraints.
As tragic, widespread and despairing as Covid is, it will come and go while the growing existential threats facing humanity, sudden nuclear extinction, slow global warming and unmanaged global scale immigration left in place can exacerbate greater disaster. He states that the threat of a thermonuclear war unleashed by reptiloids comes closer. It can happen at any moment and result in the extinction of all living things. It is emergent from an incorrectly cultivated consciousness in man’s neo-cortex leading to the multiplication of reptiloids and the growth of social dementia.
As we move into another season of masks and madness, Frederick M. Burkle urges that Treaties remain as the most successful means the world has in preventing, preparing for, and controlling epidemics in an increasingly globalized world. The same argument applies for nuclear threat and climate warming.
Paraphrasing Timothy Garton Ash, on Katrina, (it would now be Covid) was not only about the truths of presidential incompetence, as well as an absence of empathy with black lives matter, public health neglect except when things go wrong, or governmental lack of health disaster preparedness; it is also about the wafer thin crust of civilization on which we tread. Genius and culture are products of that wafer thin crust. Igor Kondrashin, proposes Greek classical philosophy as an instrument for adding neural layers to the crust. I add that when it is inhibited by reduced empathy or unduly influenced by lower order systems it results in dysfunction and disability that I and the World Philosophical Forum (Memorandum, 2020, Memorandum to Humanity of the WPF) call social dementia. Attributes include nationalist-religious movements, fake prophets and reptilian responders; examples are Evangelists in America and the 40x40 movement in Russian promoting white supremacy and rebirth of the church with Russia's resurgence as a world power. It is also precipitated by ethnic cleansing, senseless terrorism and brutal killings of targeted individuals. It is present in Peace rallies and campaigns and in peaceful protest when someone ends up dead by design (Rabin, Floyd, Belarus). Vaclav Havel told the US Congress that mankind runs the risk of an earth-shattering moment triggered by man’s genius and the force of nuclear weapons. He added that without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness nothing can change for the better; catastrophe will be unavoidable. As devastating wildfires spread along the West Coast, President Donald Trump continued to fiddle while Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary pointed out that science supports the thinking that climate change is contributing to record-setting wild fires. Watch out says the President, it will start getting cooler. He doesn’t think that science knows, actually. President Trump in California sees poor forest management leaving, leaves and downed trees to fuel forest fires with no contribution from climate change whatsoever, while science and scientists are being baselessly accused of developing a "resistance unit" for "sedition" against him. According to Burkle weird political behaviors are more evident in autocratic regimes and can be further handicapped by sociopathic narcissistic leaders incapable of understanding the health consequences of infectious diseases and how their populations are impacted. The world has become a playing field of political gamesmanship and elitist narrow interests and there is no Promised Land for migrants. A Norwegian lawmaker has nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize for his brokering of the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. In the beginning was the President’s White House and perfectly fine tuned plan for controlling the coronavirus…
Where are you Walt Whitman, whose work, Leaves of grass was considered a beacon of democracy by Langston Hughes, with its all-embracing words locking arms with workers and farmers, Negroes and whites, the peoples of Asia and Europeans, serfs, and free men. Where are you President Roosevelt, who I am sure you would today add freedom from scrutiny by surveillance to his other freedoms from fear and want. Autocratic leaders have a direct impact on health security, a direct and negative impact on health, and they can create adverse conditions that complicate crisis. They augment social dementia. Examples include Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, to varying degrees and of restraints.
Dag Hammarskjold once said that the United Nations was created to save humanity from hell. This world of great things, enormous talent, beauty and creativity is going through hell on earth with Covid-19. Although the leadership and coordinating role of the international community is questioned, it is today, mandatory. I like statements by two Stampar Laureates one by Halfdan Mahler, Director-General, WHO EURO, designated architect of Primary Health Care telling us that unless we become partisans in the battle for social justice, we betray the future of our children and grandchildren the other by Martin McKee that when Virchow was studying the causes of typhus in Silesia, the power rested with the aristocracy, propped up by the church while now power resides with global corporations and their client politicians within governments. It brings to mind the fabled sausage duel. Virchow supposedly filled one of two sausages with parasites as a biological bomb hoping Bismarck would choose it as his weapon.
Two other pertinent statements are those of Florence Nightingale who told the British brass Get the horses out of the drinking water when she was in the Crimea and words of Andrija Štampar, bear of the Balkans, who saw the World Health Organization (WHO) as an instrument making it possible for people to solve truly global problems in a spirit of true international cooperation to make the world better place to live in, in every respect healthier. Man’s early domestication of animals and more recent urbanization provide difficulties for social distancing and new playing fields for agents of disease such as Covid.
Since September 11, 2001, public health covers an increasingly larger role in emergency response but with inadequate and piecemeal funding, indeed no-profit-incentive public health is ignored by politics, politicians and markets while its available infrastructure is poorly maintained. Sam Stratton in discussing Ebola discussed the responsibly for political failures. In Kosovo I discussed the need to develop political determinants of health. In 2012, WHO’s Department of Global Capacities, Alert and Response (GCR) established a Public Health Emergency Operations Centre Network to support Member States in dealing with public health emergencies such as Covid, in keeping International Health Regulations.
Covid-19 is a disastrous disruptive event on a scale the modern world has not seen before. Lives are being destroyed and the world’s economy is being damaged while international cooperation is enormously compromised. It has caused an increase in global poverty and a sharpening of global and national inequalities. It now carries the threat of a more dangerous second round and a third wave, which may prove worse than the first two. In our days of Covid, devils drive imagined and destructive monsters while reality on the ground is side-stepped or ignored. Experts are reprimanded, ridiculed and undermined by their governments for objectivity. Covid did not create any new reality it simply aggravated what already existed. More poetically; yesterday, this day's madness did prepare; tomorrow, silence, triumph, or despair. In his Memorandum to Humanity, Igor Kondrashin sets out by describing the unprecedented events of 2020 and specifically, the fact that almost the entire population of Planet Earth was locked down (quarantine), living in panic, depressed and separated from each other by 2 meters. He chides the international community (UN Security Council, UN itself, UNESCO and the WHO, World Leaders (G7, G20) and Academia and National Scientific Academies for their garbled response. The most reliable answer he says to all Covids and existential problems can only come from classical philosophy. He stresses but not from prevailing scholastic philosophy.
In the aftermath of the explosion in the Lebanon a high level politician offered that he discovered that corruption is greater than the state and that the state cannot solve it. Political corruption is a contributor to social dementia and augmented by what he labels ignorant reptiloids with distorted consciousness. It can be described differently as a vacuous inner state of man’s soul and humanity’s collective actions responsible for the ecological crisis. By reptiloid (monkey in the mind, lizard people), Kondrashin means a human being with a less developed cortex driven by more basic instincts leading to greed and consumerism and corruption and inequality. In monkey colonies, those members too selfish in the end pay for their greed. They are relegated to the periphery of society. Social media now hires neuroscientists to help tap the know-how of the brain for the purposes of marketing. Philosophy for All can influence a reversal of this trend and move it towards tapping centers of empathy and altruism.
Kondrashin contends that it is easier to understand from where our set of existential issues are derived, than to find solutions. The complexity of the problem field confounds solution. However, solutions have been proposed; for the nuclear threat (Russell-Einstein Manifesto, Erice Statement by Paul Dirac, Piotr Kapitza, and Antonino Zichichi, ICAN, a recent non-governmental International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons by promoting adherence to the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty, for climate change with the Earth Charter, and in cases of clashing cultures, Kondrashin’s unpublished Memorandum to Humanity of the World Philosophical Forum, while Covid is what it is.
Ultimately, a vaccine will be found with limited effectiveness to dampen Covid. Until then it must be held in check by a menu of specific public health measures for individuals, families, communities, work place, schools and health facilities. Until then, we should expect misinformation and conspiracy theories such as pharmaceutical companies invent illnesses to sell their products. Certainly they are looking to find drugs that might be needed as the climate changes and companies have been known to push products to enhance appetite where malnutrition exists. Although 5G antennas are not beaming out Covid to the world its effects on health may be considerable from an overload of electromagnetic radiation. I add Covid-19 was not pre-planned and vaccination saves lives.
Kondrashin offers one overarching answer to humanity’s dilemmas in his Memorandum regarding the current situation on the planet Earth from the point of view of Classical Philosophy. It calls for a non-disparaging paradigm shift pushing our world in the direction of a more knowledge based polity, civically educated, and philosophically imbued. He wants a world inhabited with more intelligent populations armed with enhanced critical judgment not just smart enough as consumers to pay taxes or naïve enough to vote failed government back into power. He wants everyone to become patriots of the earth as homo civil sapiens as well as patriots in their respective countries, with equal justice and rights for all; equality under the law. As the rule by law lost out to the rule by law, the state itself can be an instrument of oppression and the international community put forward the important concept of human security.
His answer resides in a reprogramming of man’s civilized crust, his veneer of civilization of the higher brain or neocortex (flexible, infinite learning abilities, enabler of cultural development) by education; the higher cortex is evolution’s neural vaccine that provides checks and balances on his reptilian or lower brain, which is reliable, rigid, compulsive as well as on his limbic system (unconscious value judgments and behavior) using the available instrument of Greek classical philosophy. The cortex is the advanced part of the psyche, the intellect and spirituality; the material basis of thinking and consciousness. The lower parts of the brain that came first evolutionary are extremely vital since they reduce the work of the upper brain by its automatic-homeostatic control of basic metabolism, breathing, heart rate, heat and water balance as well as the ability of movement (cerebellum). Hence being afraid in the presence of danger real or not puts the individual into flight or fight mode that activates his lungs, heart and musculature. Consequently, its origin is for the purpose of our survival.
Kondrashin’s approach reflects Einstein’s comment that no problem can be solved at the level of consciousness, on which it was created. Although Igor Kondrashin uses hierarchical computer structures in his model he is neither talking about a man-machine marriage nor is he being elitist as he pushes for refinement of neural systems that came through evolution and now through philosophy. He is suggesting that there are implications for the use of neurophysiology to moderate human behavior upwards in the direction of refinement and explain social dementia which pulls it down. Philosophy is a vital guide and vehicle that can modulate behavior and carry it along that upward route and keep it on track. Two examples of social dementia modulated neutrally are violence and distorted decision making. They have been uniquely expressed by the late John Lewis in a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare and by the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg in throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.
Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General placed education first with civic education at the forefront and called for global citizenship. Two international organizations responded appropriately to Ban Ki-moon's initiative. One was UNESCO that recommended a Strategy for Philosophy and inaugurated a World Philosophy Day, proclaiming there is no UNESCO without philosophy! Director General, Irina Bokova put forward her unresolved UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy for 2014–21 and supported the WPF. A common slogan became, there is no Humanity without philosophy! In 2019, the WPF enthusiastically petitioned the Greek political world to take appropriate actions to restore classical philosophy in all walks of life.
The Russian philosopher says that life and its purpose must be reimagined and seen through the prism of what in ancient Greece was the concept of a well fulfilled life; wisdom, reason, morality, responsibility and obligation encapsulated or embedded in classical philosophy. He is right! In the name of the WPF Igor Kondrashin received recognition with the Golden Laurel Wreath awarded by the Greek Authorities. In his Memorandum, Kondrashin makes two sweeping statements. One says it is quite natural that in most societies the World Philosophical Forum (WPF) is forced to give and as the only place where knowledge of Classical Philosophy is preserved and developed. I hope he is wrong! He has given the WPF a formidable task!
Getting an ass to move is energy intense and you might get kicked; getting a herd of asses over Euclid’s Pons Asinorum is an unnecessary Herculean task. If I have understood, his second injects purpose into Covid as a new viral instrument of Matter and as a way to accelerate the growth and evolution of mankind’s public consciousness. (This I cannot accept!) My interpretation is that those with a higher level of consciousness will say that nuclear threat is great, the earth is warming and humans are to blame and that the coronavirus is real with a clever set of programs and an internal programmer to manage its attack strategy and modification of its defense. Covid-19 cases demonstrate clustering and come in very large numbers with a low fatality rate as opposed to SARS, which had much higher mortality and lower numbers of cases. Although much suffering and overloading of existing health services to the breaking point have occurred Covid even so it retains a relatively low threat level for the destruction of humanity compared to nuclear weapons.
Although one can find fault with his model, it is most useful, timely and targeted and should not be ignored. To paraphrase Stephanie Zacharek in her reference to Ginsburg and Lewis Instead of dodging the flames, they stared them down. So does Kondrashin! So did Socrates two thousand and more years ago giving rise to martyrdom as a political instrument. He was the first to try to educate the minds of young people by loading their neo-cortices with the correct software… but… the Athenian reptiloids of that time sentenced him to death for his enlightening educational activities this according to the words of Kondrashin. The systemic philosophical teachings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle with moderation coming from the golden mean justify the priorities of reason and morality, making room for global citizenship. Such attributes are seriously contrained by our way of life. Socrates told his Athenian judges and Kondrashin’s reptiloids, an unexamined life is not worth living.
The 10th Anniversary of the World Philosophical Forum took place under the Acropolis, in the Museum of the University of Athens. This year the prestigious ASPHER Stampar award goes to Selma Sogoric from Stampar’s namesake, School of Public Health, Zagreb and the 11th Dialectical Symposium of the World Philosophical Forum will take place in Parnassos Foundation of Letters and Arts, Athens, 15-16 October 2020.
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