What is engaged Buddhism, anyway?

Western scholars of (socially) engaged Buddhism have often also considered themselves practitioners of engaged Buddhism, in a way that is more common than with other forms of Buddhism. Thus scholarship on engaged Buddhism often tends to take on a theological cast. I don’t think this is a bad thing. I’ve long tried to advocate that non-Western traditions should be treated as partners in dialogue, not as mere objects of study; we should be doing ethics and not only doing ethics studies. The field of engaged Buddhism is one where scholars often do Buddhist ethics and not merely study other people who do Buddhist ethics, and I appreciate that about the field very much – against those like Victor Temprano who object to such normative work.

Now theological scholarship still is, and should be, scholarship, subject to standards of academic rigour. This is where engaged Buddhist scholarship has sometimes been lacking. Engaged Buddhist scholars often write as if all Buddhism is socially engaged Buddhism, ignoring the Buddhists who advocate social disengagement. I’ve said my piece about that part. Today I want to point to another area where engaged Buddhist scholarship has lacked rigour in the past: the question of what engaged Buddhism is.

Wherever we stand on the political spectrum, there are going to be Buddhists engaging in politics from a different place than us. Like myself, most engaged Buddhist scholars typically come from a standpoint of left-wing non-violent action. This is not the standpoint of Wirathu, of the Bodu Bala Sena, of the militant monks of southern Thailand. One might argue that these are bad Buddhists (and I do), but they are still self-identified Buddhists. And by any normal or commonsensical definition of the words “engagement”, “social engagement” or “political engagement”, they are socially and politically engaged: they are acting in organized movements to change society and government.

So if they are engaged and they consider themselves Buddhists, does that make them engaged Buddhists? The obvious answer would be yes. But that isn’t the answer you would get from reading engaged Buddhist scholarship. (Chris Queen recently claimed that “It is hard to comprehend the grounds on which Brown and her colleagues believe that these violent ethnocentric and nationalist Buddhists should be called ‘engaged Buddhists.'” Really? They’re engaged in politics and they’re self-proclaimed Buddhists – is that really so hard to figure out?)

For far too long, engaged Buddhist scholarship’s approach to right-wing nationalist Buddhists was largely to ignore them, just study more sympathetic figures like Thich Nhat Hanh and pretend the unsympathetic ones don’t exist or are irrelevant. Brian Victoria’s pathbreaking work helped greatly to change this, by showing how many Buddhist teachers admired by Western scholars had supported the fascist Japanese government in World War II. Such right-wing or violent Buddhists are fortunately no longer ignored. But the question of whether they count as engaged Buddhists is still a live one, for several engaged Buddhist scholars would still argue that they do not and should not.

Fortunately, this is at least now a debate. Paul Fuller’s book on engaged Buddhism counted right-wing and violent Buddhists as engaged; friend of this blog Donna Brown recently argued in the Journal of Buddhist Ethics that the concept of engaged Buddhism “should be democratized to include all Buddhists and their social engagement.” But the older conception still has its defenders: Sallie King recently responded to Brown, claiming “Becoming a socially engaged Buddhist displaces being a nationalist Buddhist. One cannot be both.” So King’s argument merits a closer look.

King’s argument focuses on the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB), a group of politically active Buddhists and Buddhist organizations originally founded in Thailand by Sulak Sivaraksa. King correctly notes that INEB’s members are mostly Asian, and view themselves as engaged Buddhists. She also notes INEB’s claim that it “has never wavered from its commitment to non-violent engagement”, and aims at “creating solidarity with individuals and groups who hold similar such values from other religions”. King notes that the latter point stands in contrast to the Asian Buddhists who persecute Muslims or Tamil Hindus, and points to an email communication that “INEB does not include any Buddhist nationalists-ethnocentric Buddhists in its organizational structure”.

The question is, what do all these points actually entail? INEB is one group of self-identified engaged Buddhists. That doesn’t give it the right to speak for all engaged Buddhists. There are Theravādin self-identified Buddhists who would say that Mahāyāna is “not really Buddhism”; if those self-identified Buddhists don’t get the last word on who counts as a Buddhist, then why would a network of self-identified engaged Buddhists get the last word on who counts as an engaged Buddhist? Were Wirathu or the Bodu Bala Sena also to self-identify as engaged Buddhists, it is not clear why the INEB’s approach should stop us from classifying themselves as such, for they would be just as much self-identified Asian engaged Buddhists as the INEB is.

Now it is important in this regard that, as far as I know, right-wing or ethno-nationalist Buddhists generally don’t call themselves “engaged Buddhists”; I don’t get the impression that they have found the concept or movement of engaged Buddhism to be worthy of their consideration. So we could restrict the concept of “engaged Buddhism” to those who self-identify as engaged Buddhists. Or, in a similar and probably more helpful vein, we could argue that “Engaged Buddhism” names a historically specific Buddhist social movement, and not a general tendency within Buddhism. (This would be an excellent reason to capitalize the E, as King does.) I think King implies such a view when she proclaims that “the name ‘Engaged Buddhism’ (and ‘Socially Engaged Buddhism’) is already taken!” The term would then name the modern movement (or set of movements) going back to Thich Nhat Hanh and his predecessor Taixu, and those individuals and organizations – including the INEB – who see themselves as following that movement. On that account, being a Buddhist who is socially engaged does not itself make you an Engaged Buddhist, just as being against fascism doesn’t itself make you Antifa.

Let’s be clear of the implications of what that move would be, though. It would rule out the interpretation that Tom Yarnall calls “traditionist”, according to which past Buddhist figures and texts – King Aśoka, Nāgārjuna’s Ratnāvalī – can be counted as Engaged. For those thinkers and texts did not self-identify as Engaged any more than Wirathu does, nor were they part of the modern Engaged Buddhist movement. (Queen, and others whom Yarnall calls “modernists”, would likely be okay with that implication.)

I think that’s a move we can make, though it might make several engaged Buddhists uncomfortable. But we do need clarity. Perhaps Engaged Buddhism is a historically specific modern movement going back to Thich Nhat Hanh and the ideology he set out, and those not affiliated with that movement don’t qualify. Or perhaps engaged Buddhism is a broader, more literal thing: Buddhists who engage in politics are engaged Buddhists, and they’ve been around since at least the time of Aśoka. It may be that both usages remain appropriate depending on context – but we need to be clear about which we’re using. I suppose we could do worse than using “Engaged Buddhism” with a capital E to name the first, and “engaged Buddhism” with a small e to name the second. But we need to be clear: if Wirathu isn’t an Engaged Buddhist, then neither was Aśoka.

Cross-posted at Love of All Wisdom.

8 Replies to “What is engaged Buddhism, anyway?”

  1. Both our descriptive and normative characterizations of a religious worldview should be able to help us distinguish, more or less, those who claim fidelity to the spiritual authorities, existing traditions, and doctrinal literature and those who, while they may identify themselves as, say, Christians, but show little behavioral and/or verbal evidence, sociologically and historically speaking, that they in fact aspire to act or practice according to the religious and ethical obligations and duties, prescriptions and admonitions, ideals, values and principles that are part of that particular religious worldview, including the various sub-traditions or schools, or perspectives that over time have become associated with that worldview. In such cases that worldview is reduced to an ideology (the Marxist critique of ideology can be useful here, but I think it can be further filled out with social psychological and moral dimensions), used here in a pejorative and critical sense, hence this religious ideology reveals conspicuous failure, for example, to maintain an orientation to truth and/or epistemic coherence; shows a disposition to encouraging or propagating baneful social psychological mechanisms such as denial, deception, willful ignorance, deleterious wishful thinking, and phantasies; has a clear infatuation with Realpolitik and a corresponding failure to respect a—frequently constitutionally embedded—metaphysical and moral concept of human dignity and the corresponding human rights associated (inspired by or derived from) with same; and a related disdain for if not wholesale dismissal of the need for Liberal and democratic ideals, values, and practices, like secularism, pluralism, democratic political participation, deliberation, and representation).

    I will illustrate by way of a religious worldview that, for better and worse, has been predominant in the U.S. since its founding: Christianity, in particular, the modern form of evangelical Christianity on the Right. This kind of Christianity has—literally and figuratively—been weaponized so as to create a nationalist evangelical “Christianity” that is an ideology manifestly at once, anti-Liberal, anti-Constitutional, and anti-Democratic, while divorced from the actual teaching and preaching of Jesus as documented in the Gospels of the New Testament, indeed, it represents in praxis a doctrinal and living contradiction of the principal messages of Jesus as a Jewish prophet (or idiosyncratic rabbinic-like teacher, keeping in mind that Jesus was not the ‘founder’ of Christianity). The evangelical Christians on the Right who support Donald Trump have an unquenchable thirst for political power. Their messianic religious cult is devoted to uncritical support for a former President who is a megalomaniacal and pathological narcissist, as well as a serial sexual predator twice impeached and now facing a 37-count federal indictment concerning the mishandling of highly classified U.S. intelligence and charges under the Espionage Act (among myriad other serious legal problems). Truth be told, these are only nominal Christians, exhibiting a love of Realpolitik that is utterly divorced from Christian values and beliefs insofar as those are derived from and inspired by the life, teaching and preaching of Jesus. They habitually and conspicuously provide abundant evidence of not having read the New Testament, especially the Gospels, although they do voice vociferous allegiance to this or that saying or narrative in the Old Testament. Their religious and political orientation is best described in terms of authoritarian and nationalist Christianity often suffused with unabashed racism. These putative Christians “have set up their idols in their hearts.” They reveal inexcusable unfamiliarity with, or self-deception and denial about, Christian virtues and spirituality. In fact, there is nothing spiritual whatsoever about their faith, which cannot provide a plausible vision, let alone proper pursuit of public morality (hence their disdain of civic equality and the explicit or implicit support of white supremacy). Relatedly, their (literally and figuratively) weaponized religion is utterly bereft of an ethics and ethos suited to the trial and tribulations, the needs and obligations, the purposes and tasks, that make up the minimal conditions or backdrop of our daily lives. How can we help these people see things differently, assuming that that is even possible? How does one engage in meaningful or reasonable conversations with people who refuse to abide by constitutionalism secularism, thus believing their religious views and identity entitle them to rule over those who does not subscribe to the religious ideology? How do we prevent them from undermining what is left of our fragile Liberal democracy?

    To enhance our understanding of this frightening social, cultural and political phenomenon I recommend the readings found in the fairly short list below. One might also consult a complete copy of The Federalist Papers, works from the psychoanalytic—neo-Freudian and Kleinian—literature on group psychology and nationalism more generally, as well as the history of conservative political philosophy and politics in the U.S. See too the chapter, “Fools, Hypocrites, Zealots, and Dupes: Civic Character and Social Stability,” in S.A. Lloyd’s brilliant volume, Morality in the Philosophy of Thomas Hobbes: Cases in the Law of Nature (Cambridge University Press, 2009): 295-355. Finally, for an introductory discussion of Hobbes’s ideas on social character in that chapter, please see the section, “Thomas Hobbes on “social (or ‘civic’) character” at roughly the halfway point of my post at Patrick’s Musings & Miscellany: “From ‘Madman in the White House’ to The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: The Case for Psychoanalytic Social Psychology and Marxism,” 18 May, 2023.

    • Auestad, Lene, ed. Nationalism and the Body Politic: Psychoanalysis and the Rise of Ethnocentrism and Xenophobia (Karnac Books, 2014).
    • Butler, Anthea. White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America (University of North Carolina Press, 2021).
    • Goldberg, Michelle. Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism (W.W. Norton & Co., 2006).
    • Gorski, Philip S. and Samuel L. Perry. The Flag and the Cross: White Christian Nationalism and the Threat to American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2022)
    • Greenhouse, Linda. “Victimhood and Vengeance,” The New York Review of Books, Feb. 29, 2023.
    • Hendricks, Obery M., Jr. Christians Against Christianity (Beacon Press, 2021).
    • Hollinger, David A. Christianity’s American Fate: How Religion Became More Conservative and Society More Secular (Princeton University Press, 2022).
    • Lernoux, Penny. The Struggle for World Catholicism (Viking Penguin, 1989).
    • Sehat, David. The Earthly Frame: The Making of American Secularism (Yale University Press, 2022).
    • Seidel, Andrew L. The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American (Sterling, 2019).
    • Stewart, Katherine. The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019).
    • Verhaagen, Dave. How White Evangelicals Think: The Psychology of White Conservative Christians (Cascade Books, 2022).
    • White, Morton. Philosophy, The Federalist, and the Constitution (Oxford University Press, 1987).
    • Whitehood, Andrew L. American Idolatry: How Christian Nationalism Betrays the Gospel and Threatens the Church (Brazos Press, 2023).
    • Wierzbicka, Anna. What Did Jesus Mean? Explaining the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables in Simple and Universal Human Concepts (Oxford University Press, 2001).

    The idea of “engaged Buddhism” has religious, scholarly, and (nonviolent) Leftist origins in the literature that make it plain it is not being used in the manner of a “commonsensical” or even simply lexical definition of the words “engagement,” “social engagement” or “political engagement,” but rather in an at-once descriptive and normative sense. In other words, while it is dependent on a lexical-like definition of engagement, it also has “précising,” “theoretical,” and normative (spiritually and ethically speaking) features that enable one to distinguish between nominally (in name only) “engaged” Buddhists like the Burmese monk Wirathu and his followers, the Sri Lankan Bodu Bala Sena, and the militant monks of southern Thailand encouraging vigilantism and violence, from the “engaged Buddhists” of nonviolent Left inspiration. Thus our ideological critique is capable of explaining how the religious identity, virtues and values, moral praxis and authoritarian politics of “bad Buddhists” is not deserving of the label “engaged Buddhists,” indeed, we should say, along the lines we did with the Right evangelical Christians above, that these are Buddhists in name only, that they are hypocrites that fail to demonstrate any meaningful commitment to (even if only in an avowed or aspirational sense) to the Eightfold Path. This kind of critique can take place simultaneously from both “inside” and “outside” (from emic and etic vantage points) a religious worldview. We defer or concede far too much to these “bad Buddhists” should we decide to classify them as yet another form of “engaged” Buddhism insofar as that appellation has little or nothing in common with concept as it has been proposed and spelled-out in the requisite literature. It is better to refer to them with scare quotes, hence “Buddhists” or to describe them as “Buddhist nationalists” (which reveals doctrinal contradiction and incoherence), “violent Buddhists,” nominal or at best putative Buddhists owing to their individual and collective self-identification and thus not in reference to the necessary or sufficient conditions found in the evidence of beliefs, actions, and virtues we have determined as central to Buddhist traditions and schools.

    In conclusion and in brief, the answer to the question “if they are engaged and they consider themselves Buddhists, does that make them engaged Buddhists?” is not (at least not unambiguously) “yes,” and certainly not obviously so. It should not be that difficult to figure out when religious identity is being used to fuel predominantly political behavior bereft of a moral compass as well as any longstanding spiritual praxis or “exercises,” in this case, in the form of prima facie or presumptively sincere attempts to live as a Buddhist defined generally as one committed to integrating and embodying the triune parts of the Eightfold Path: samādhi, sīla, and prajñā in the daily round. This of course may have political implications, consequences, and so forth but the politics is in several important respects subordinate to the religion, not the converse.

    Incidentally, it is not at all clear as to what counts for “academic rigor” here, however desirable or persuasive such rhetoric sounds to academic ears. Not a little of the literature on engaged Buddhism appears addressed to practicing or would-be Buddhists in the first place even if it is written in the style of contemporary scholarship or hopes to speak to academics as well, thus such “rigor” may not be foremost among the desiderata of such writers even if they themselves have academic backgrounds. Aśoka was an “engaged” Buddhist before the time of “engaged Buddhism” and Wirathu is not a Buddhist except by way of self-identification and proclamation, he is a nominal Buddhist just as evangelical Christians on the Right in this country are nominal Christians. “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?”

    • I’m a little hesitant to make the normative move of saying that Wirathu is not a Buddhist, though I’m more sympathetic to it than most. I agree with you that it is quite parallel to the move of saying that evangelicals are not real Christians (or, conversely, to the also-often-made move from the other side, of saying that liberal Christians are not real Christians), and I’ve expressed my sympathy with that move in the past. If we do make that move then it’s quite easy to grant that Wirathu is not an engaged Buddhist – if he’s not a Buddhist then he’s not an engaged Buddhist, QED.

      My hesitancy comes because religious studies as a field, with the study of engaged Buddhism as no exception, has always included a sociological dimension alongside the theological, and taking such a clearly normative and theological definition makes the sociology more complicated. I’m sympathetic to the idea of doing so in principle, but I’m not encouraged by the way it has worked out in practice – above all by the history of the field of engaged Buddhism. When I say it’s lacked rigour I’m referring to the decades of scholarly work on “engaged Buddhism” which completely ignored Japanese nationalist Zen or Sinhala persecution of Tamils, as if somehow all that was not relevant to the study of engaged Buddhism. But sociologically it clearly is: both Sinhala anti-Tamil nationalism and much engaged Buddhism can trace clear roots back to the same source of Anagarika Dharmapala. This is why people like Michael Jerryson have tried to banish normative work: they’re frustrated about how much it blinds us to descriptive reality.

      I’m obviously all for normative work myself, and tried to restate that point at the beginning of this post. When Sallie King says violence and contempt are “not a valid expression of the Dharma”, I agree with her – but recognize that this is us speaking in a normative theological register. There have been many Buddhists throughout history, from at least the time of the Mahavamsa, who have said to the contrary that violence and contempt were valid expressions of the Dharma. That doesn’t make them right – I think they’re not – but as sociologists and historians we do need to account for their presence, and I think that so far the normative theological commitments of engaged Buddhist scholars have stood in the way of our doing so.

  2. The normative Buddhalogical commitments of engaged Buddhist scholars has not at all prevented historians and sociologists from speaking or writing about “bad” or violent Buddhists. Please pardon my frankness, but I think that claim or belief is rather silly or implausible. The fact that people have exploited or misused or abused essential or fundamental aspects of their religious worldviews throughout history is parasitic on the fact that this is not viewed as representative of the normative, prescriptive and proscriptive dimensions of their worldview as understood by adherents and outsiders alike. Scholars who have taught us about these worldviews, especially since the European Enlightenment, can hardly be faulted for providing us with an idealized model or simple portrait in the first place, for that is how we identify and attempt to explain or speculate precisely how, why and to what extent people depart from what is normative (cf. how we teach the rule of law and the role of social norms: that is prior to our accounting for departures from same, for we presuppose knowledge of the law and norms before we identify those who break the law or transgress social norms). It is, as we say, an exception to the rule, and I happen to think there are social psychological and psychoanalytic explanations (beginning with Freud’s narcissism of small differences) of such phenomena (e.g. by Sudhir Kakar, Vamik Volkan, and James M. Glass, as well as the work of Lene Auestad and those involved in the international and interdisciplinary conference series on Psychoanalysis and Politics, which Auestad initiated in 2010) that go some way toward explanation and understanding the nature of this kind of religious violence. The following list was put together some time ago and I suspect the literature has grown considerably since then, whatever the scholars and proponents have written about engaged Buddhism (to claim otherwise strikes this reader as either a red herring or straw man):
    • Bari, Muhammad Abdul. The Rohingya Crisis: A People Facing Extinction. Markfield, Leicestershire, UK: Kube Publishing, 2018.
    • Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. In Defense of Dharma: Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002.
    • Boyle, Francis A. The Tamil Genocide by Sri Lanka: The Global Failure to Protect Tamil Rights under International Law. Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2nd ed., 2016.
    • Chaudhury, Sabyasachi Basu Ray and Ranabir Samaddar, eds. The Rohingya in South Asia: People without a State. London: Routledge, 2018.
    • Dalton, Jacob. The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2011.
    • Fortify Rights by the Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. “Persecution of the Rohingya Muslims: Is Genocide Occurring in Myanmar’s Rakhine State? A Legal Analysis,” October 2015.
    • Ibrahim, Azeem. The Rohingyas: Inside Myanmar’s Genocide. London: C. Hurst & Co., revised ed., 2018.
    • Ives, Christopher. Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen’s Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009.
    • Jerryson, Michael K. Buddhist Fury: Religion and Violence in Southern Thailand. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.
    • Jerryson, Michael K. and Mark Juergensmeyer, eds. Buddhist Warfare. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.
    • King, Winston L. Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
    • Tambiah, Stanley J. Buddhism Betrayed? Religion, Politics, and Violence in Sri Lanka. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1992.
    • Tikhonov, Vladimir and Torkel Brekke, eds. Buddhism and Violence: Militarism and Buddhism in Modern Asia. New York: Routledge, 2013.
    • Victoria, Brian Daizen. Zen War Stories. London: Routledge Curzon, 2001.
    • Victoria, Brian Daizen. Zen at War. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2nd ed., 2006.
    • Wade, Francis. Myanmar’s Enemy Within: Buddhist Violence and the Making of a Muslim ‘Other.’ London: Zed Books, 2017.
    • Yu, Xue. Buddhism, War, and Nationalism: Chinese Monks in the Struggle against Japanese Aggressions, 1931-1945. New York: Routledge, 2005.

    • I’m not sure who you’re responding to by producing that list, since I explicitly mentioned Jerryson (and Victoria) in my comment, and linked to my discussion of him as someone who was himself frustrated with normative scholarship because it marginalizes the study of violent Buddhists. Yes, historians and sociologists do indeed study violent or ethnocentric Buddhists – in a way that makes them frustrated with the engaged Buddhist scholars who have relegated other kinds of Buddhists to a footnote at best.

      I would argue a true American Christian is one who seeks to open the country and its hearts and minds to as many comers as feasible. But an introduction to American Christianity would be incomplete if it didn’t point out that many if not most American self-professed Christians believe the opposite.

  3. Much of the discussion here, and in the literature, is focused on what it means to be “engaged” in a way that is compatible with the ethical character of Buddhism. That seems to get us only part way to Engaged Buddhism, even when, as is often the case, the projects engaged in are worthwhile in a broad leftist sense. As I see it, more focus has to be placed on what makes this kind of engagement specifically Buddhist, in perhaps the most basic sense. I can highlight the issue with a question: How do the relevant modes of engagement address ignorance, the first link in the twelve-fold chain? Without focusing there, directly, the suffering of others is not addressed. By “directly,” I mean helping those in need to access and understand all three disciplines, sila, samadhi, and prajna. Are these organizations doing that? What I see, at best, are Buddhists using social movements as ways of enacting and cultivating their own karuna, which is, again, going only part way.

    • I think I’m in broad sympathy with what you’re saying, Neil. A lot of Buddhist literature tells us that it is our internal craving and ignorance, not our social and political conditions, which really causes our suffering, and I think that’s something that’s really been neglected in the engaged Buddhist literature.

  4. The term engaged on literary studies or philology had a root sense deriving from the headline debate on early modern times, between the Ancients and Moderns. There the Ancients were aristocrats, and proud of being amateurs in literature, not needing to write for a living. Yet at the same time, they felt it important to develop a real feeling for language as a creative medium, by engaging in creations of their own – and for that were called dablers or dilettantes. In that sense they were what we here call engaged. And going back to the Emperor Asoka, party to forming feudal, militarized states, and securing privileges for their loyalty. But importantly in that way not engaged on Buddhism so much as monarchism!

    The Moderns, in contrast, were scholars who prided themselves on detached observation and impartial judgement of literature, in that way disengaged from the creative practice. Modern academic practice has followed in the same pattern, through the positivist emphasis on objectivity. Yet detachment in this sense corresponds to the dispassionate stance in Yoga, rather than anything specifically Buddhist – I don’t think the insight of emptiness amounts to the same thing. By the same token, detached observation is no guarantee of a properly Buddhist disengagement from the painful cycle of becoming.

    On both sides of the historic divide, then, one sees the indulgence hilighted by Marshall McLuhan in his quip “the medium is the message” now endlessly echoing through the Internet, in a tangle over advertising – the Internet! in a tangle over . . . !?*#

    Habits of learning from schooldays and studies are thoughtlessly perpetuated as a license to a living for a lifetime – as in the bad old Korean chaebol system, while the historic roots of much that is impoverished and dysfunctional lie unexamined. The Ancients were originally warriors, kshatryas in Hindi terms, noblesse de epee in French, with habits of violence which now show up viral on video streams, over which Macron is heard barking Order! Order! Order! at the ruin of his ambitions in Africa. . . .

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