Saturday, July 12, 2008

Toward a Red Buddhism



I am wondering if this is what Noam Chomsky's anarcho- syndicalism looks like:
On the Eastern Front, it was becoming almost impossible for many Russian officers to maintain military discipline. Early on the morning of February 17 [1916] a number of front-line cavalry squadrons were issued with live ammunition and ordered to ride to cavalry headquarters some distance behind the line. They were not told of the purpose of this manoeuvre. ‘Soon’, one of their number, Georgi Zhukov, later recalled, ‘everything became clear. From around a street corner appeared a demonstration carrying red banners. Spurring on his horse, our squadron commander, followed by other squadron commanders, galloped towards regimental headquarters, from which a group of officers and factory workers had emerged.’

A ‘tall cavalryman” then addressed the assembled soldiers, telling them that the working class, peasants and soldiers no longer recognized the Tsar. ‘The Russian people’, he said, ‘wanted an end to the slaughter of an imperialist war; they wanted peace, land and liberty.’ The cavalryman ended his short speech with a call for an end to Tsarism and an end to the war. ‘Though there had been no command,’ Zhukov wrote, ‘the soldiers knew what they should do. They shouted and cheered, mingling with the demonstration.’
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War, New York: Henry Holt & Company (1994), p. 313.

I know this is a historical reference and its hard for me to believe that Chomsky is advocating something of the same species as a soviet federation. And I further suppose that he is confusing domains somehow in speaking of anarcho-syndicalism as appropriate for the governance of a technological state. I suppose further the problem is Chomsky's introjecting his personal impulse toward freedom into a consideration of governance. While it is true that limited self-government purports to acknowledge the natural entitlement to freedom inuring to mankind, this certainly has a greater operative viability in a frontier context. Maybe technological frontiers can sustain the spatial dynamics required or maybe true freedom is to be found only out on the spiritual frontiers. That is not to say that the two realms may not have common elements.

So then in this context let us consider the pending proposition: "Toward a Red Buddhism." Now while the word "red" may rightly be associated with the totalitarianism of a worker's state as historically pursued in the failed Soviet experiment, it might also refer to a kind of conflagration. And to the extent that this is referred to material domains the problematic issues inherent in cycles of violence surely arise. But then now let us consider Buddhism or the spirituality of awakening. In this light a "Red Buddhism" becomes a conflagration of spiritual awakening. The issues of coercive governance then become de minimus. The point under consideration becomes the agni yoga or fire yoga as a path of personal liberation. Shall the dross of coercion then be refined in the fire of personal awareness?

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