-- / --
Legality of the trial of Jesus
Controversial interpretations of justice
Precedence of property protection over emergence of truth
Embodiment of transcendental truth
Achieving simplicity in a world of complexity
Disclosure of truth as endangering lives
Recognizing the unknown and the unimaginable
Whistleblowers: responsibilities and persecution
Historical legacy of Barack Obama: Pontius Pilatus XXI?
Extraterrestrial and extratemporal challenges of the future?
The USA proudly defends many disputed official initiatives as being lawful. These include extraordinary rendition, imprisonment without trial, enhanced interrogation, targeted assassination, and invasive surveillance of privacy. They are all framed as legitimate measures of self-defence. Their legitimacy has been questioned from a wider perspective, notably by Larry Siems (The Torture Report: what the documents say about America's post-9/11 torture program, 2012) and by Philippe Sands (Lawless World: America and the Making and Breaking of Global Rules, 2005; Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, 2008).
The matter has been considered before the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal, based on the Nuremberg Charter (Deborah Dupre, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld war criminals verdict Enforcement Phase begins US War Crimes, Examiner.com, 15 May 2012; Yvonne Ridley, Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia, Foreign Policy Journal, 12 May 2012).
Actions publicizing such dubious US initiatives with hard evidence, such as to call their legitimacy into question, are challenged by the US. Having informed the UN Secretary General that it no longer intends to become party to the statutes governing the International Criminal Court, and therefore having no legal obligations in consequence, the USA effectively positions itself as above the international law to which the majority of states subscribe. The challenge of current disclosures regarding invasive surveillance of many states by the USA is however framed both as a breach of legal provisions regarding property and as potentially aiding those seeking to harm the US.
Those providing such information may then be readily considered as "terrorists" -- unquestionably meriting the most extreme forms of punishment. The pattern follows from that of proceedings instigated in the USA by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) -- a pattern subsequently described as McCarthyism. This is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It is also held to mean "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism."
From an historical perspective, it is appropriate to note how many presidents of countries were originally named as "terrorists". some were subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. These notably include Nelson Mandela -- a personal hero of Barack Obama -- and Yasser Arafat. Others labelled terrorists include: Jomo Kenyatta and Robert Mugabe. Presumably all would be subject to prosecution at this time within the USA. To be recognized as irony of the highest order, Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize soon after taking office. He is unique in being labelled "terrorist" by some -- subsequent to being so honoured (Lupe Fiasco calls President Obama a terrorist, Los Angeles Times, 8 June 2011; Noam Chomsky: Obama is 'Running Biggest Terrorist Operation that Exists', Information Clearing House, 21 June 2013).
For Patrick J. Tyson (George Washington was a Terrorist! 2010), and as variously noted by others:
According to the definition of terrorism adopted by the FBI, George Washington was a terrorist. Indeed, so were Jefferson, Franklin, Adams and all the signatories to the Declaration of Independence. Moreover, all Confederate soldiers, statesmen, and sympathizers were terrorists.
It is also appropriate to note that considerable legitimacy was claimed by their respective governments for the legal proceedings of the apartheid regime of south Africa, the Nazi court system, and that of the soviet Union.
Given the fundamental importance of Jesus to the faith-based governance of the USA, it is therefore appropriate to ask whether he would be subject to prosecution according to current legal provisions there -- given some of the evidence presented against him at the time of his trial. Is there any way his innocence would now be recognized in a modern trial in the USA?
Without claiming any corresponding status or merit for Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, the question can then be raised as to whether the property-related offences with which they are being charged in the USA can be compared with the property offences which resulted in the arrest and trial of Jesus.
Whilst any implication that current cases are comparable to historical cases is highly controversial, consideration of such comparison enables issues of truth and justice to be discussed in relation to vested interests.
The trial of Jesus has been widely upheld as one of the most significant in history because of its consequences. As might be expected, there is a very considerable body of literature on the trial, both from a purely legal perspective and in commentary regarding the trial, especially with respect to those who might be held responsible for any illegality. The trial is understood as taking place in two phases:
The most noted study of the matter is by the lawyer Richard Wellington Husband (The Prosecution of Jesus: its date, history and legality, 1916; with multiple re-editions). This upholds the legality of the trial and provides an extensive bibliography of earlier studies (many listed below). It has been the subject of various reviews and commentaries, including those of:
More recent commentary regarding the trial includes:
There is a problem when dealing with the various contradictory biblical accounts of Jesus' arrest and trial as they relate to each other and Jewish practice of the day.
Whilst useful arguments are presented by parties with very different axes to grind, it is difficult to challenge the weaknesses in those arguments -- except in the light of the points made by other parties for their own particular reasons. These are themselves necessarily questionable in turn.
This situation does however help to frame the manner in which the trials of Manning, Assange and Snowden might take place.
One point of departure with respect to the trial of Jesus is the clearly argued case made by Herman L Hoeh (Twelve Reasons Why Jesus' Trial Was Illegal, 1983). Hoeh was an ordained minister in the evangelical Worldwide Church of God (itself a victim of controversy). He however argued that if Jesus were tried in many of today's courts, he would be found guilty. His twelve reasons for the illegaility of the trial, citing Jewish legal procedure and criticizing Husband's arguments, are:
The reasons are consistent with the traditional effort of Christianity to hold Judaism responsible for the execution of Jesus. The legal and Jewish perspectives are carefully examined by Max Radin (The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth, 1931) followed by the wider-ranging legal study of George R. Dekle (The Case against Christ: a critique of the prosecution of Jesus, 2011). The "political" argument, reinforced by the agenda of atheists, notably explores the manner in which Jesus could indeed be "legitimately" framed as a terrorist.
The various approaches to justice in the matter, as indicated above, tend to obscure the vested interest in any particular interpretation, and the procedures which may have been used to achieve it.
One useful approach, of relevance to consideration of the current cases, is to reframe the case of Jesus in terms of "property" -- but especially such as to encompass the financial assets of business operations, intellectual property, even extending to cultural property, despite uncertainties in this regard (Naomi Mezey, The Paradoxes of Cultural Property, Georgetown University Law Center, 2007; Joseph P. Fishman, Locating the International Interest in Intranational Cultural Property Disputes, The Yale Journal of International Law, 35, 2010).
This extension would provide a common framework for consideration of:
Christians celebrate Jesus's birth and the immediate events around his crucifixion, but less attention is given to the clearest sign of his political activism, his overturning of the money-changing tables at the Temple in Jerusalem, the likeliest reason for his execution.... In sum: "Jesus attacked the temple system itself," assailing it because it was patently unjust.
Blasphemy was an offence so odious to the Jews that they conducted the trial in all its aspects in such a manner that the words used by the offender, constituting the crime, were not spoken by the witnesses; but fictitious words and personages were introduced. As they could not execute under the fictitious name, they finally excluded the public, and calling the principal witness said to him: "Tell us clearly what thou hast heard"; and then the witness, naming the person, stated the words constituting the offence.
Property: The primary legal case against Manning-Assange-Snowden relates to the "property" of the United States government which they are alleged to have misappropriated. The property takes the form of data in electronic files. There is currently no question that such property is effectively held in trust by government for the peoples of the USA, according to the Preamble of the Constitution of the USA, which reads:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Expressed more explicitly, the property is effectively that of tax payers as a collectivity. The argument is currently in process of development in relation to the paywalls severely constraining public access to the results of any research -- as intellectual property -- funded by tax payers via government agencies (Megan Gannon, White House Promises Free Access to Publicly Funded Research, Live Science, 26 February 2013; Meredith Schwartz, FAsTR Aims to speed Open Access to Government-Funded Research, Library Journal, 21 February 2013; David Crotty, Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research: first Iimpressions on the US Government's policy, The Scholarly Kitchen, 25 February 2013; Harvard Open Access Project, Notes on the Federal Research Public Access Act).
Curiously the property framework draws attention to the manner in which the USA has been systematically acquiring, via electronic surveillance and without consent, the "property" of those using modern electronic communications -- to the extent that their content is to be understood as private property. The accusation against Manning-Assange-Snowden thus strangely mirrors that which can be made against the USA. The defence is of course that the USA has declared such acquisition to be lawful via a range of legal provisions and directives, whether secret or not, and whether concluded with complicit foreign governments or not.
More controversial, to the extent that this property has been acquired in the name of the peoples of the USA, is the question as to whether Americans can in any way be held responsible for what be considered the "theft" of the private property of other peoples of the world.
Truth: The secondary case against Manning-Assange-Snowden relates to the manner in which the received consensual truth, cultivated misleadingly by the government of the USA, is called into question by the "concrete evidence" in the electronic disclosures. These alternative understandings of the truth are readily to be seen as "blasphemous" from the perspective of US government authority -- to a degree that their revelation is considered treasonous and punishable by death. some evidence is considered so sensitive that, as in the original trial of Jesus for blasphemy, it can only be heard in secret.
This raises the question as to the nature of the truth promoted by a religious belief system and that promoted by a political authority -- both with their possible complicities, as explored by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman (Manufacturing Consent: the political economy of the mass media, 1988). The issue is also evident in relation to the "truth" promoted by "science", as separately discussed (Knowledge Processes Neglected by Science: insights from the crisis of science and belief, 2012). The issue is framed differently with respect to the financial community where reference is made to a "culture of deceit" (David Milliken and Huw Jones, Bank of England attacks "deceitful" bank culture, Reuters, 29 June 2012). The phrase is also used with respect to politics (Henry A Giroux, Deceit in Obama's America: the rule of damaged politics, Truthout, 21September 2009 )
The pattern with respect to truth is also evident in the case of other unquestionable assumptions of "consensus" -- such as the so-called Washington Consensus -- and the manner in which they are considered to be "blasphemously" called into question by "alternative" perspectives (Considering All the strategic Options: whilst ignoring alternatives and disclaiming cognitive protectionism, 2009; Framing the Global Future by Ignoring Alternatives: unfreezing categories as a vital necessity, 2009).
It is understandable that questioning any such truth should be perceived as dangerously "un-American" (as noted above), "un-scientific", or "anti-semitic", as separately discussed (Guidelines for Critical Dialogue between Worldviews: as exemplified by the need for non-antisemitic dialogue with Israelis? 2006). This notes the dialogue modality in which criticism of any kind is defensively reframed as being necessarily symptomatic of illegitimate "anti" bias justifying appropriate measures in response.
Guardians of the truth: This highlights a curious parallel between the systemic dynamics of the bodies protective of the truths central to the following belief systems:
The worldview framed by "TINA" is eloquently called into question by the arguments of the Chinese-American venture capitalist Eric Li (A Tale of Two Political Systems, TED, July 2013) who challenges efforts to impose a single socio-political "meta-narrative" as a universal panacea -- whether it be (Western) electoral democracy or a (Chinese) single party system. Succinctly he states that any panacea so framed is culturally unrealistic and "boring" in addition to being of questionable efficacy. It is unfortunate that such thinking is not applied to the quarrelling religions of the world, as suggested by the arguments of Stephen Prothero (God Is Not One: the eight rival religions that run the world -- and why their differences matter, 2011).
"Higher" truth: Christians would claim that the statements of Jesus were interpreted by the Sanhedrin as blasphemy because they related to a "higher" truth -- inadequately embodied in the Jewish articulation, which he was understood to be explicitly calling into question. From this perspective, Jesus was called to account because he broke a mold which prevented access to that higher truth. Islam would tend to see its relationship to Christianity in similar terms. Roman Catholicism was later exposed to a similar process in the case of the Galileo Affair. The same pattern is potentially to be seen with respect to current challenges to global strategy by alternative perspectives (despite reference to TINA). The process has been the subject of debate regarding the nature of "scientific revolutions", through which the paradigms of the past are called into question.
In all such cases the pattern is indicative of protection of "intellectual property" by those claiming ownership of it -- against threats thereto by those indicating more transcendental or fundamental truths neglected in such formulations. For any formalized belief system, there can necessarily be no higher truth -- it constitutes the highest truth, by definition (hence Margaret Thatcher's TINA). In the case of religion, the claim to ownership may be interpreted as uniquely sanctioned by God through some special dispensation. The pattern is evident in the USA through the understandings of Manifest Destiny.
There is a profound irony to the pattern whereby Jesus was effectively pre-judged and condemned in the light of "higher" principles embodied in religious law -- before the case was reframed for consideration by secular authority. Traces of this pre-judgment are now evident in the roles of various authorities whose business-as-usual would be disrupted by taking into consideration "higher" principles and values transcending their habitual frameworks. The irony is compounded by the fact that reference is made to such "higher" principles in the constitutional documents in which issues of "justice" are susceptible of subtler interpretation -- when it is convenient to bask in the implications that they are being upheld. The current internal scandals of the Vatican, as faced by the newly elected Pope, ironically offer a further illustration.
A comparison might be usefully made between the Sanhedrin phase of the trial and modern trial in the "court of public opinion" -- namely the media. Chat show hosts, with the support of evangelical commentators, frame opinion in anticipation of any formal legal proceedings (discreetly aided and abetted by government propaganda). The case is thus effectively reframed to increase chances of prosecution -- as in the second phase of the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate. With respect to the fate of truth within such contexts, supreme irony is provided by the US National Rifle Association in accusing the media:
You don't care about the truth, and the truth is the national news media in this country is a national disgrace, and you all know it." (NRA official accuses media of creating controversy over Travyon Martin case, The Guardian, 15 April 2012)
"Existence" of transcendental truth: The core question is how to recognize a transcendental truth from within a framework of definitions insensitive to its existential reality but purporting, through those definitions, to encompass it (possibly sanctioned by unquestionable revelation and the significance attributed to sacred scripture). This question relates to any system of beliefs (spiritual, scientific, financial, political, etc) for which protective measures for "sacred cows" are considered vital.
The philosophical issue might be reviewed in the light of apophatic theology or of Gödel's incompleteness theorems relating to the inherent limitations in mathematical logic of all but the most trivial axiomatic systems. This challenge was highlighted by Ludwig Wittgenstein in the famous phrase: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must pass over in silence (Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922).
The question is ironically highlighted by comparison of the underlying "idea" animating the Tea Party and Al Qaida, as separately discussed (Cultivating Global strategic Fantasies of Choice: learnings from Islamic Al-Qaida and the Republican Tea Party movement, 2010). In both cases the concern from any conventional perspective is the extent to which either "exists" -- as might otherwise be defined in legal terms and required by legal provisions.
The matter may be explored in the contrast between "law" and "lore", and the understanding of whether any associated "order" is singular or plural (Law and Order vs. Lore and Orders? Imagining otherwise the forceful engagement of singularity with plurality, 2013). "Lore" may well be assumed to embody transcendental truth more meaningfully than "law" -- with the consequence that it effectively sustains an ecology of "orders" as the embodiment of a more transcendental "order" (otherwise inaccessible to comprehension).
Implications of existence in physics: The cognitive implications are a continuing feature of debate regarding "existence" with respect to emerging understandings of fundamental physics. As noted by sascha Vongehr (The self-referential start of Fundamental Description: toward a Theory of Everything via serious "postmodern" physics, Science 2.0, 1 July 2013):
What can be logically prior, what must be assumed, what is the a priori starting point?... "Fundamental" physics today needs a "Kantian" approach enlightened throughLudwig Wittgenstein. This is not "philosophy"; this is exact sciences, "fundamental" rather than merely empirical, but physics nonetheless. Language is crucial! Niels Bohrand for exampleJohn Archibald Wheelerunderstood thatfundamental physics is about what we can say, but they still succumbed to the urge to add "notabout what is", much like the early Wittgenstein. The later Wittgenstein grasped much better the importance of the inevitable implicit re-defining of "what is".
Vongehr illustrates the current dilemma regarding any received truth in continuing:
Idesireto refuse academic inflation of verification transcendent distinctions about what is "ontological versus epistemic in metaphysics" for example. Idesireto refuse the alternative naïve-scientistic engineering mindset about whether, for example, probability and time "really exist", spastic self-destructions of terminology often claimed to be elevated over "mere philosophizing" on grounds of being uttered by established physicists. However, all a serious 'postmodern' approach can do is to supply an alternative, because meaningless words cannot be targeted properly without giving them meaning while doing so, thus one usually ends up being wrong when refusing something as wrong. Theindescribable is precisely that - indescribable, period!
Existence of transcendental "values": If Jesus were to be understood as speaking in some such mode, it would be clear why his words were understood as blasphemous in relation to the received truth as embodied in sacred scriptures conventionally and literally interpreted. The question is whether Manning-Assange-Snowden are effectively operating from such a modality -- through their appeal to values ineffectively embodied in law. This is clearly offensive to the pattern of official secrecy and its protection by a body of law -- the "letter of the law". The transcendent reality -- the values and principles in terms of which they might be assumed to have acted -- is necessarily "invisible" to those whose reality is solely defined by a body of conventional laws and regulations.
There is however some irony to the fact that US authorities have a tendency to defend their actions using phrases such as "American values" and "security" which themselves imply dimensions which are a matter of interpretation. Both those authorities and Manning-Assange-Snowden would justify their actions in terms of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness as articulated in the United States Declaration of Independence. These are considered to be "unalienable rights" which the Declaration claims all human beings have been given by their Creator and for the protection of which they institute governments. Such rights are otherwise framed as "non-negotiable". That other cultures may have a distinct understanding of "non-negotiable" rights is inadequately appreciated -- other than through the assumption that they must necessarily be "wrong" by comparison.
Liberation of truth? Curiously truth itself, especially the manner in which it is currently reproduced, is increasingly difficult to distinguish from intellectual property. If it is "worth" anything, somebody is liable to claim ownership of it -- even exclusive ownership of it, as separately discussed (Future Coping strategies: beyond the constraints of proprietary metaphors, 1992). This is most evident in the case of the "classified information" of the Manning-Assange-Snowden cases. As related to "concrete proof', this can also be seen in instances of tampering with the evidence in support of it -- and the virtual impossibility of now demonstrating that this has not been done (given the resources that can be devoted to doing so, if it is "worth" it).
Rather than seeking to "liberate" territories subject to some form of colonialism, foreign occupation or property ownership -- as with "terrorists" of the past -- Manning-Assange-Snowden are effectively seeking to "liberate" property in knowledge space. The classic response by Margaret Thatcher, when accused by Harold Macmillan of excessive privatisation of state owned enterprises (as "selling the family silver"), might even apply: But I am selling it back to the family. Although, in the case of Manning-Assange-Snowden, it is a gift freely offered to the family.
Experiencing simplicity: The increasing degree of information overload, and the increasing complexity of society, engender a fundamental desire for simple truth experienced existentially. The assumption is readily made by adherents of various belief systems that that simplicity may be experienced through a pattern of prescriptions and laws -- however complex these may be, and whatever the challenge to their comprehension. Ignorance of the law is not held to be a valid plea.
There is however the possibility that the simplicity for which people yearn may not be achieved experientially in this way. The widespread recourse to drugs, and other mind-altering methods, is an indication of this. Efforts to ensure a supportive quality of life through governance have also proven to be problematic -- and a challenge to the associated assumptions (Ungovernability of Sustainable Global Democracy? 2011). Raising the spectre of terrorism, and cultivating a culture of fear, is the current preferred alternative as a means of focusing the collective mind on "reality" to reinforce the message (Promoting a Singular Global Threat -- Terrorism: strategy of choice for world governance, 2002). sacrifices may then be felt to be necessary -- as of yore.
Indicative correspondences: As a personal existential experience, there is then a curious correspondence between the following within an information society variously permeated by belief:
For those trying to achieve simplicity (and its analogues above) through a pattern of norms (and prescriptions according to that pattern), the situation is now readily framed as a "war against terrorism" and the extremes it represents (Norms in the Global struggle against Extremism: "rooting for" normalization vs. "rooting out" extremism? 2005).
Transcendental embodiment of truth: The possibility that access to existential simplicity may more readily be achieved through transcending a restrictive pattern of norms embodied in law is typically not envisaged -- and is itself to be considered a threatening incitement to a hidden form of violence against conventional "law and order". This is a form of freedom of opinion which may be challenged in some jurisdictions.
The question then, as in the struggle to articulate the insights of fundamental physics, is how to engage with any "transcendental" truth offering a sense of simplicity. How can that engagement encompass confidence in the face of uncertainty and existence in the face of terror. The challenge is exemplified in relation to "property" -- whether embodied in a pattern of beliefs as "intellectual property" or in a "temple" (of religion, finance, science, or politics).
Where is it possible to feel "at home"? The paradoxical possibility can be framed in terms of "introversion", otherwise comprehended (World Introversion through Paracycling: global potential for living sustainably "outside-inside", 2013). With respect to its Christian heritage, a most curious twist to the symbolism of the "justice" pursued by the US with respect Manning-Assange-Snowden, is that they have all been rendered "homeless" -- with "no place to lay their heads" -- in anticipation of permanent incarceration.
Transformation between forms of truth: There is also the question of the transition -- or transformation -- between one pattern and another, potentially with the possibility of returning to the first according to circumstance. separately this transition has been framed in terms of a "deadly question" enabling disassociation from that sensed to be inadequate in order to shift into the other offering greater "enlightenment" (In quest of the most deadly question, 2013; Enabling morphogenesis and transformation through catastrophic questioning, 2013).
The relationship between modalities, perceived as radically different, may however be usefully understood as founded on a paradoxical cognitive illusion. Metaphorically this may be explored in terms of the argument for "polyocular vision" as made by Magoroh Maruyama (Polyocular Vision or subunderstanding? Organization studies, 25, 2004, pp. 467-480), and discussed separately (Polyocular strategic vision , 2009). It is perhaps best illustrated by the Mobius strip, as notably highlighted by Steven M. Rosen (Science, Paradox and the Moebius Principle: the evolution of the transcultural approach to wholeness, 1994):
Recognizing a framework of higher dimensionality: These suggest that the confrontations between Jesus and the Sanhedrin, between the Catholic Church and Galileo, or between the USA and Manning-Assange-Snowden, all call for a framing of higher existential dimensionality -- whatever that may come to mean in terms of logic or worldview.
The challenge for the individual confronted with such divisive dynamics is discussed separately (Eliciting a Universe of Meaning -- within a global information society of fragmenting knowledge and relationships, 2013).
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the Manning-Assange-Snowden disclosures is the manner in which they enable the unknown to be "re-cognized". They offer a depth and perspective to understandings of world dynamics long ignored or denied in official discourse and simplistic academic explanations of international relations. -- and associated world modelling. Governments complicit in the process now claim that the level surveillance was long known to their decision makers -- although suspicions by others were typically deprecated as cynicism on the part of conspiracy theorists. Such governments now go further with the excuse that "everyone has been doing it" over long periods of time -- even to the argument of UK Foreign Secretary William Hague that If you have nothing to hide, you've nothing to fear... (9 June 2013). The matter may be understood otherwise (John Naughton, The NSA/GCHQ metadata reassurances are breathtakingly cynical, The Guardian, 7 July 2013).
The current disclosures might be said to open a form of Pandora's Box however. For if so much was unknown to the electorate -- however informed governments now claim to be -- there is little reason to doubt that much more remains "unknown". sensitivity to this possibility is what the disclosures have offered to the peoples of the world -- despite the efforts of their governments.
|There are known knowns;
there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say,
there are things that we now know we don't know.
But there are also unknown unknowns -
there are things we do not know we don't know.
Appropriate to the argument here, regarding the contrast between legality and justice, efforts to bring Rumsfeld to trial for torture have been dismissed by the US Supreme Court (Supreme Court rejects tortured whistleblowers' suit against Rumsfeld, RT, 10 June 2013; Supreme Court Ends Torture Lawsuit Against Donald Rumsfeld, The Huffington Post, 10 June 2013; Supreme Court rejects Rumsfeld torture suit appeal, Jurist, 11 June 2013).
Using the second line of Rumsfeld's the "poem", the disclosures now make clear to "we the peoples" that :
There were known unknowns; that is to say, there were things that we now know we didn't know.
But the disclosures enable us to "re-cognize" the fundamental significance of the third line:
But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know.
Depending on the understanding of "we", these unknown unknowns might be distinguished as:
Various attempts are made to discuss the nature of the "unthinkable" (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007; Karen A.Cerulo, Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst, 2006). The difficulty is that such "rational" arguments have limited credibility in practice.
Especially challenging strategically is the manner in which:
In such a context, the role of Manning-Assange-Snowden is effectively to "reframe" the unknown as a contribution to much-challenged global leadership in turbulent times (The Future of Leadership: reframing the unknown, 1994). Efforts to do so are of course readily framed as "blasphemous" or "treasonous" by those operating out of articulations of received truth held to encompass all that it is necessary to know.
The question for the peoples of the world is whether what is thereby concealed is so horrendous that it calls into question the current modalities of social organization, however anticipated by religion in terms of "evil", as separately discussed (Thinking in Terror, 2005). This may well include actions taken by governments, supposedly in the name of the people, but without effective democratic oversight of "surveillance" (itself perhaps better recognized as a process of "overhearing"). Of potentially far greater significance may be that which remains concealed, of which people like Snowden have no knowledge. Was the incidence of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy an indication of this? Despite the extent of "surveillance" in quest of "terrorism", does the failure formally to recognize the abuses associated with the subprime mortgage crisis offer another indication? Do these "tips" suggest the possibility of even larger "icebergs" with which the "civilizational Titanic" is likely to collide due to a failure of "oversight" -- a blindspot indeed?
It is curious to note the current official assertions of the adequacy of democratic oversight when the term "oversight" is also used to denote a form of negligence -- a failure of due diligence, potentially to be understood as systemic. Rumsfeld's "poem" has been discussed separately from the latter perspective (Unknown Undoing: challenge of incomprehensibility of systemic neglect, 2008). Could the current condition be speculatively caricatured as a Global Civilization of Vampires: Governance through Demons and Vampires on Spin (2002)?
External enemies of US: Increasingly, the worldwide war against terrorism of the US is framed in terms of the principle: You're either with us, or against us. As discussed separate (Us and Them: Relating to Challenging Others, 2009), The principle has been widely used to frame the existence of enemies requiring appropriate response, most ironically in the Bible itself:
With respect to the Manning-Assange-Snowden cases, the claim is made that disclosure of classified information endangers (American) lives -- aiding and abetting the enemy. The implication is that secret information ensures competitive advantage (for "us"), even when the information is concealed from the electors and their directly elected representatives charged with democratic oversight responsibilities -- despite the unexplored challenges, separately discussed (Simulation of consequences and possibilities of cognitive engagement, 2013).
Internal enemies of US: This raises the question as to whether "with us" is interpreted to mean "with appropriate security clearance" -- whilst "lower security clearance" then necessarily implies "against us". This could be understood as implying that those without adequate clearance are to be assumed to be the enemies of effective central government in any democratic system.
More generally the principle raises the question of the extent to which the "opposition" to government in any elected assembly is to be considered as "the enemy" -- namely "with the terrorists", as so clearly stated by George Bush. Does this principle play out dangerously in other arenas of strategic consultation where a variety of opinions is vital -- notably in the form of "negative feedback", as required for adequate control of a complex system (in cybernetic terms)?
Cultivation of "yes-men": To what extent are lives endangered by absence of negative feedback contrary to received wisdom? (cf. 'Yes-men' culture jeopardizes corporate governance, The Asahi Shimbun, 6 July 2013). Is it in effect an argument for government by "yes men" and women -- as is the primary characteristic of many dictatorships? (Rob Asghar, How Yes Men Can Ruin You: Leadership Lessons From a Pakistani Dictator, Forbes, 19 April 2013; Erica Frantz and Natasha M. Ezrow, 'Yes Men' and the Likelihood of Foreign Policy Mistakes Across Dictatorships, APSA 2009). The issue arose with respect to the so-called "intelligence failure" with respect to 9/11 (Groupthink: the Search for Archaeoraptor as a Metaphoric Tale -- missing the link between "freedom fighters" and "terrorists", 2002).
The above confrontation of the "with us / against us" version of Jesus with that of Bush and Clinton helps to reinforce a vital distinction. That of Bush/Clinton is inherently divisive -- aside from any deliberate conflation of "us" and "US". It implies adherence to the explicit pattern articulated by the US worldview -- as embodied in its pattern of laws to which appeal is constantly made in unquestionable justification of every US aberration of human rights. In this way "human lives", if not American lives", are repeatedly endangered. That of Jesus (Matthew 12:30) implies a form of existential transcendence potentially consistent with understandings of a subtlety implied by the physicists' quest for a Theory of Everything: Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. In current language (as noted above) there is a mystery to the nature of the identity of that "me" -- a mystery beyond the scope of the Bush/Clinton framework.
Given the distinction , it is somewhat extraordinary to note extensive debate on the relation between God and "Yes Men" (Shlomo Riskin, Parashat Noah: God doesn't want yes-men, Jerusalem Post, 30 October 2008; Tito Edwards, Can All be saved?, God's Men vs. Yes Men: a model for Catholic Colleges, and much more! National Catholic Register, 26 October 2011; Todd Strandberg, God's Yes Men, Rapture Ready; Christian Mathis, God's Men Versus the Yes Men, Blessed is the Kingdom, 25 October 2011).
US framing of itself as the enemy: As a failure of both transcendence and any engagement with the future challenges of comprehension (indicated above by Sascha Vongehr), the USA effectively frames itself as a primary instigator of "scattering" -- as the enemy which so many perceive it to be. The reliance on lack of transparency, and on secrecy of the highest order, constitutes a form of mystification long characteristic of religion and of the military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower so famously warned.
The sanctum sanctorum of religions, accessible only to high priesthood, is strangely echoed in the case of the USA by the secretive NSA complexes of Bluffdale and Fort Meade, as documented by James Bamford (The Black Box: inside America's massive new surveillance centre, Wired, April 2012) ; The Secret War, Wired, 12 June 2013). Given the accumulation of truth concerning everyone (in the first) and the possibility of retribution against everyone individually (from the second), are these the functional equivalent of the Temple of Jerusalem -- perhaps constituting a "third temple" dedicated to the security of the US alone in recognition of its Manifest Destiny? What might become the requisite rituals of "worship", now that the existence of these "temples" has been revealed?
The question must necessarily be asked whether failure to disclose information enabling more informed democratic decision-making endangers more lives than restriction of access to information. How is this to be determined -- and by whom -- given the constraints on democratic oversight, discussed separately (Simulation of consequences and possibilities of cognitive engagement, 2013).
Classic examples include:
The issues are central to the ongoing debate regarding the role of whistleblowers and how that is to be enabled, protected and constrained. A whistleblower is a person who exposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. In performing this role Manning-Assange-Snowden are currently facing reprisal at the hands of those responsible. Whistleblowing protection in the USA is affected by a complex patchwork of contradictory laws -- raising numerous questions regarding the justice of any trial.
Arguments for whistleblowing: Withholding facts, or a proportion of them, prevents appreciation of the truth with regard to a wide variety of economic, social and psychological processes. This is now obvious in many domains:
Spiritual whistleblowing: Returning to the case of Jesus, as argued by Van Robison (Spiritual Whistleblowers, Battered sheep, 2010):
There were many whistleblowers in the Old Testament and they were called "prophets." Many whistleblowers in the Old Testament were martyred, as Jesus Christ says in Matthew 23:31 "Wherefore you are witnesses unto yourselves, that you are the children of them, which killed the prophets." The mentality of power mongers, people controllers, and lusters of money, resources, land, buildings and all things of a material nature, is ever with mankind....
Jesus Christ was the greatest Whistleblower the world has ever known, and to this day the world is overrun with character assassins who malign the character of Jesus Christ, and who attempt to make the world believe that Jesus Christ was a "myth." Christians are victimized by deceivers and human lords who want power, control and free money. Truth is often a rare quality because liars deceive, and the world is full of liars....
It is very difficult to know the real truth about many issues because of the web of deceit that surrounds many of these events. No doubt, some of the books that came on the market are very likely written by clandestine sources such as the CIA, who use spurious names to hide their true identity...
spiritual whistleblowers are frowned upon by those who can't see, and by those who love their power, control and free flowing money. False prophets, pastors, scribes, priests and deceivers -- hate being exposed as frauds. Jesus Christ exposed the fraud of man-made traditions in the name of God, which cost Him His life on the cross of crucifixion. We are told that most of the original disciples of Jesus Christ were also martyred for being whistleblowers and proclaiming the truth. Many human beings have been sent to their graves early in life for being truth tellers and shedding light upon darkness.
Self-reflection and whistleblowing: The surveillance whistleblowers are now eliciting debate amongst Christians in the USA (Stephen Mattson, Should Christians Support Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange? RedLetter Christians, 28 June 2013; John Dear, Why the Churches Should Support Bradley Manning, The Huffington Post, 6 June 2013). Rinny Gremaud (What Watching Whistleblowers Tells US About Ourselves, WorldCrunch, 14 June 2013) asks:
Why are the whistleblowers making everyone uncomfortable? Probably because it's the nature of our society to keep its distance with the insubordinate, those people who place their judgment above the rules of the community. But wait, there's more to it. Maybe it's this way of putting every one of us in front of our responsibilities. We end up asking ourselves: What would I have done if I were in his place? What kind of machinery am I fueling, doing what I do? Every single day I do what I'm told, but in the end, am I not contributing to making this world worse than it is? Is my salary a monthly bribe to keep my mouth shut? should I ask for a raise?
As argued by Gremaud, the action of whistleblowers offers an extraordinary form of cognitive mirror -- of the kind described by Douglas Hofstadter (Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, 1979; I Am a Strange Loop, 2007) -- and speculatively argued separately (Iconic Extrajudicial Execution of Jesus through Osama by US? Whither a cyclopean global Pax Americana lacking depth perception? 2011).
Perhaps most strange in the development of the tale of Christianity is the manner in which a purportedly Christian country has transformed itself into one which would prosecute Jesus -- following the pattern at the origin of that religion -- effectively embodying the characteristics of those long condemned for that prosecution.
Show trials: Presidents are typically sensitive to their historical legacy -- especially in the USA. Acclaimed as the most powerful man in the world at this time, Obama is now responsible for three legal proceedings -- against Manning, Assange and Snowden. Whether or not these result in interrelated trials in court remains to be seen. History may however readily conflate them -- especially as being representative of Christian vindictive justice in the light of the pretrial procedures. They may well be equated with the show trials of the past in various countries: China (Great Leap Forward), Stalinist Russia (Moscow trials), France (Dreyfus affair), USA (Salem witch trials).
The profoundly curious feature of the trial and legal execution of Jesus is that -- without the controversy it aroused -- it is questionable whether Christianity would have emerged as a religion of any global significance. If Jesus had been declared innocent, or the case had been dismissed, Jesus would in all probability never have been heard of subsequently. Unwittingly, Pontius Pilate therefore played a vital role in the drama through which higher truth became apparent.
To ensure his own legacy, Obama can fruitfully consider such an opportunity. The comparison has already been made by some (Susan Dench, What Do Barack Obama And Pontius Pilate Have In Common? 8 May 2013; Scott Keyes, Rep. Mike Kelly Says President Obama Is 'The Pontius Pilate Of Politics'. 2 December 2011; Obama is our Pontius Pilate, Prepper Politics, 21 August, 2012; Ron Villagran, By comparison Obama is hardly different than Pontius Pilate as a Government Official, Herald Sound, 11 March 2010)
Legality vs. Justice: It is the sense of injustice engendered, so clearly contrasting with the apparent legality of formal proceedings, that renders comprehensible a higher truth. The "justice" assumed to be associated with "legality" is demonstrated by the drama to be unjust in terms of subtler and more profound principles. There are now many instances in which the level of "injustice" is perceived as contrasting markedly with claims made for the "rule of law". This is most apparent in the case of global inequality and the manner in which it is increasing (Isabel Ortiz and Matthew Cummins, Global Inequality: beyond the bottom billion, UNICEF, April 2011; Jason Hickel, The Truth about Extreme Global Inequality, Al Jazeera, 14 Apr 2013).
It is becoming ever clearer to "we the peoples" that government agencies using "justice" in their titles (US Department of Justice, UK Ministry of Justice, etc) have very little to do with "justice" -- perhaps better understood as a term misappropriated for public relations purposes. Their focus in on the "law" and "legality" -- which typically has only an incidental (or coincidental) relation to those principles of justice transcending any possible embodiment within the body of the law. It is legitimate to wonder where insights into the nature of "justice" are acquired. Curiously the academic world is more honest in use of "faculty of law", with only very occasional use of "faculty of justice" (Google hits: 300 vs. 600,000). Similarly security services are clearer when framed as acting to ensure "law and order" -- without being embarrassment with considerations of "justice".
It is also curious to note the contrast between:
At the time of writing, the highly controversial "not-guilty" verdict with regard to the Shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman can only reinforce such impressions (Judd Legum, 7 Ways the Zimmerman Mindset Permeates America's Criminal Justice System. AlterNet, 15 July 2013). As noted by Gary Younge (Open season on black boys after a verdict like this, The Guardian, 14 July 2013):
Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn't like the look of him. The killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year was tragic. But in the age of Obama the acquittal of George Zimmerman offers at least that clarity.
Other relevant comment includes that of William Boardman (A Rough Guide to Life in the United States of Zimmermanm, the US of Z, AlterNet, 16 July 2013):
The most important thing about the Zimmerman verdict is that it's a clear demonstration of how the American legal system is only about law. It is not about justice. It is not even about the consequences of killing another person. The verdict demonstrates that, despite the protestations of the law that it is about justice, that's only a pretense to cover the reality: that when the law produces justice, it's a fluke, an accident, a surprise. The law is only about the law. And it's no wonder, when you stop to think about who makes laws and why. Justice is one of the last things on the legislative mind, if it ever gets there at all.
In effectively embodying the role of Pontius Pilate in the current drama regarding the higher truths to which Manning-Assange-Snowden appeal and give expression, Barack Obama can best play out the role of Pilate by maximizing the sense of injustice through emphasizing the legality of the proceedings deployed. The vindictive pretrial initiatives with respect to each of them already makes ever more clearly evident the vacuous nature of the appeals to the letter of the ("Christian") law by which it is hoped to prosecute them -- if their assassinations are not otherwise ensured.
Obama's ability to maximize the sense of injustice is further enabled by the action of his former religious mentor, Jeremiah Wright, in indicting the USA (Jay Janson, Rev. Jeremiah Wright: "God Damn America for Her Crimes Against Humanity", Information Clearing House, 15 July 2013). In his discussion of the current situation, Nicholas C. Arguimbau (What Fools We Are! Information Clearing House, 15 July 2013) recalls the widely commented statement by Obama on taking office:
Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency. (Remarks by the President in welcoming Senior Staff and Cabinet Secretaries to The White House, 21 January 2009)
With respect to any legacy and symbolism, the phrase could be better read as containing a typo -- "touchstones" should have been read as "tombstones".
Symbol of transcendental truth? Speculatively and provocatively it might be asked what symbol of belief might come to be associated with the emergence of a mythology and religion engendered by the martyrdom of Manning-Assange-Snowden. Critics have already noted a tendency towards their "beatification" (Brendan O'Neill, Let's call a halt to the worship of whistleblowers, Spiked! 11 June 2013).
Would the Statue of Liberty be understood as constituting an appropriate symbol of the freedom of information of which Manning-Assange-Snowden are representative? Or would that statue then be seen like the Roman Colosseum as more representative of the deadly games which the American empire plays -- with the truth? The future may well appreciate a monumental embodiment of the diminutive Manning as infinitely more "meaningful" and "truthful".
In the light of the universal Christian appreciation of the cross as an appropriate symbol of the pain inflicted by authority on Jesus as a truth-teller, the question is what contemporary technology could now best embody the official attitude of the USA to emergent truth. Use of an electric chair might be seen as resembling too closely iconic images of the seated Abraham Lincoln. Some configuration of needles used in that mode of execution might resemble too closely a daily habit of too many American voters.
Iconic imagery? Inspiration for the central symbol of environments in which truth is celebrated in the future might be more imaginatively associated with a combination of the iconic imagery of the popular Star Wars series and the use of waterboarding -- as a seemingly painless preferred modality in the official quest for truth in the USA. As with Jesus on the cross, a degree of elegance needs to be embodied in the imagery for purpose of display.
A basis for reflection on the possibility is offered by the character Han Solo, appropriately described by Star Wars creator George Lucas as: a loner who realizes the importance of being part of a group and helping for the common good. The series is widely known for its celebration of a transcendent "Force" -- a binding, metaphysical, and ubiquitous power.
In that drama, under the orders of Darth Vader, Solo is captured and sealed in carbonite for delivery to Jabba the Hutt -- a process somewhat reminiscent of that desired by US authorities with respect to Assange and Snowden. Manning could already be understood to have long been placed in a form of stasis in anticipation of his show trial. Through incarceration, permanent stasis is now vigorously sought for all three. The practices of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are also indicative of a form of painful legal stasis officially favoured by the US -- a form of living death -- contrasting strangely with the values embodied in a widely known song (Guantanamera) in celebration of a woman from that area.
The "triumvirate" of Manning-Assange-Snowden could be embodied in a single image, resembling that of Han Solo sealed in carbonite (as in a tombstone). This could be appropriately and elegantly displayed under a flow of water in centres in which truth is celebrated in the distant future --- echoing the enhanced interrogation to which the triumvirate are likely to be subjected under the orders of Pontius Pilate XXI.
|Focal animation of future symbolic celebration
of transcendental truth?
(tentatively based on an iconic image from Star Wars
of Han Solo in carbonite, embellished by a water feature,
recalling a method of discovering the truth officially favoured in the USA)
|Animation developed from iconic image in
Wookieepedia: the Star Wars wiki
Polysensorial embodiment of truth: Speculation on future celebration of truth, as inspired by the above symbol, could be taken further in the light of the cognitive issues regarding language (discussed above). The metaphorical arguments of Maruyama for a "polyocular vision" can be extended to other senses -- to a "polysensorial" modality capable of "re-cognizing" an elephant, as separately explored (Strategic Challenge of Polysensorial Knowledge: bringing the "elephant" into "focus", 2008). Given the great importance currently attached to song, whether in Christian celebration or otherwise, a more fundamental role for tone can be imagined as a means of giving expression to subtlety.
One approach to understanding the future potential of the "lost language" of pattern-shifting in a process reality can be obtained from insights into the 4,000 year-old chanted hymns of the Rg Veda of the Indian tradition. A very powerful exploration of this work by a philosopher, Antonio de Nicolas, using the non-Boolean logic of quantum mechanics, opens up valuable approaches to higher orders of cognitive integration. The unique feature of the approach is that it is grounded in tone and the shifting relationships between tone. It is through the pattern of musical tones that the significance of the Rg Veda is to be found, as he explains:
Therefore, from a linguistic and cultural perspective, we have to be aware that we are dealing with a language where tonal and arithmetical relations establish the epistemological invariances... Language grounded in music is grounded thereby on context dependency; any tone can have any possible relation to other tones, and the shift from one tone to another, which alone makes melody possible, is a shift in perspective which the singer himself embodies. Any perspective (tone) must be "sacrificed" for a new one to come into being; the song is a radical activity which requires innovation while maintaining continuity, and the "world" is the creation of the singer, who shares its dimensions with the song. (Four-dimensional Man: meditations through the Rg Veda, 1978, p. 57)
In the current period , with the focus on "overhearing" through surveillance, and its control through "oversight", the traditional cognitive relevance of "overtone singing" merits some consideration as a vehicle for forms of comprehension inadequately embodied in conventional discourse, as separately discussed (A Singable Earth Charter, EU Constitution or Global Ethic? 2006; Aesthetics of Governance in the Year 2490, 1990).
Curiously the desperate quest for "global harmony" has to date failed to draw on the understandings offered by the very extensive musical theory of harmony -- familiar in practice to many. In what the future may consider to be a tragic irony, the theory distinguishes between "just" intonation and "equal" temperament -- terms strangely reminiscent of sociopolitical challenges of the present day, amd those purportedly faced by Barack Obama.
The Aztec Empire was caught by surprise with the consequences of the arrival and occupation by the Spanish. The Aboriginal peoples of Australia were caught by surprise through the manner in which jurisdiction over that landmass was claimed by the English. It is therefore useful to speculate on the nature of the surprise which might ensue as a consequence of the "jurisdictional" claims of arriving extraterrestrials -- now that the probability of their existence is taken ever more seriously (Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: the impact of the highly improbable, 2007; Karen A. Cerulo, Never Saw It Coming: cultural challenges to envisioning the worst, 2006).
How will the "rule of law" -- as upheld by the USA to override the emergence of any higher truth -- then be reframed? Speculative possibilities are discussed separately (Writing Guidelines for Future Occupation of Earth by Extraterrestrials: Be done by as you did? 2010). How will that "law" relate to the subtleties of the "laws" of physics enabling travel through space-time by visiting entities?
As suggested by the radical repossession of Australia by the English, how will "intellectual property" then be reframed in relation to the truth upheld as transcendental from an extraterrestrial and extratemporal perspective? Will extraterrestrials derive their existential significance from a form of Dreaming?
With the Second Coming of Christ upheld as imminent by both those most closely associated with the faith-based governance of the USA, and by Islam, what comic potential will become evident with attempts to constrain the words of Jesus regarding transcendental truth within the legalities of American intellectual copyright provisions? Will those truths be subject to disclosure by "traitors" such as Manning-Assange-Snowden in defiance of commerical contractual provisions? What "temples" of faith will Jesus then seek to "cleanse"? Might these include the NSA "temples" of knowledge on the peoples of the world -- through "turning ECHELON around" (From ECHELON to NOLEHCE: enabling a strategic conversion to a faith-based global brain, 2007)?
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