September 25, 2023

Gilbert Highet on Civilisational Transmission



Gilbert Arthur Highet (June 22, 1906 – January 20, 1978) was a Scottish American classicist, academic writer, intellectual critic, and literary historian.

An excerpt from, "Gilbert Highet, the First Celebrity Classicist" By Robert J. Ball, Antigone, May 24, 2022:

Most eloquent among the sons of Scotland, educated at Glasgow and Oxford, you have for the last forty years enriched the world of classical letters with the richness of your scholarship. You have been at once a support and an ornament to humane learning in this, your adopted country. Generations of Columbia students can testify to the scope of your erudition and the precision of your wit. In nearly a score of books – doctis, Iuppiter, et laboriosis – you have charted the enduring forms and themes of literature, with a spirit as indefatigable as it is passionate. A Varro in learning, a Cicero in eloquence, you have not only defended the vitality and grace of the classical tradition, you have also embodied it.

So spoke President William McGill at Columbia University’s 1977 commencement as he awarded a D.Litt. to Gilbert Highet (1906–78), regarded in his day as the most celebrated Classical scholar in America. In an era without the internet or podcasts or YouTube, Highet became a household name, with his distinctive voice reaching a worldwide audience through his books and lectures, heard even over the airwaves.

An excerpt from the lecture below by Gilbert Highet on the value and significance of the transmission of knowledge between civilizations, giving the example of Japan in the late 19th century:

I suggest that we might understand a great deal of history by looking at groups of people as learners and teachers. I believe that much of the most drastic and potent change in our own public lives and in the history of the last two or three thousand years has been an educational and intellectual change, not a power change and not a wealth change except indirectly.

Let's take some examples. The most drastic example I can think of at present is one where a nation of thirty million people deliberately put itself to school and by doing so changed its own history and the history of the world. That was Japan.

In 1868 or say in the 1860s Japan had been sealed off from the rest of the world almost completely for many generations. That is, it had refused to learn anything from the rest of the world or teach anything to the rest of the world. There had been no communication.

Now, you and I all know the tremendous effects of what is called the opening up of Japan but what was that opening up? Did we impose power on them? Not that chiefly. Nor did they on us at that time. Did we begin to extract wealth from them or exchange goods and services with them? Yes, but that wasn't the most important thing.

The most important thing was that they suddenly decided to learn from all the rest of the world by a conscious policy. In 1868 the Emperor took an oath which was the beginning of modern Japan. It's called the Charter Oath. It ended with this extraordinary phrase. Imagine this as part of the Constitution of a country. This is the last phrase, "knowledge shall be sought for throughout the world." And that was the real meaning of Japan's opening up.

From then they had no Constitution, they had no army, they had no navy, they had no money, they had no calendar, they had no sciences except the most primitive kind. And between 1868 and roughly 1890 they sent out dozens of missions to learn from the rest of the world and imported no less than five thousand teachers into Japan to teach them all these things.

They had no Constitution, they sent out a commission which toured the United States of America and Europe and came back with a Constitution learned from the Kingdom of Bavaria.

They had no bank, no money system, they quite soon found the disadvantages of that when the Westerners got in, so they sent out another commission which came back with a model for the Bank of Japan from the Bank of Belgium. They learned how to have a bank and a finance system.

They had no army, they had a collection of clans, they sent over, as you would expect, to Germany and brought back a German military mission which created within a matter of ten years an army powerful enough to win a dangerous civil war.

They had no navy, they sent a mission over to Britain, which at that time was the leading naval power, and you know the subsequent effects of the Japanese navy. 

They had no proper calendar, they had only the Chinese calendar, they learned that also from Western nations. And so forth. 

That was, you see ladies and gentlemen, not really a political move, not an economic move, it was an intellectual move. And that changed history.

If you wish to think how much it changed history, ask yourself what would happen if other nations of the same approximate size and strategic position, say Burma or Java or Egypt, had determined as strongly to learn from Western nations.

Video Title: Gilbert Highet on Civilisational Transmission. Source: Maximus Lollius. Date Published: August 21, 2021. Description:

Gilbert Highet radio broadcast from March 1954. 

In it he discusses how the history of the world is the history of civilisations. And that inter-civilisational education and learning is a key component of a civilisation's totality.

Skip to the 3:55 mark for the lecture.

September 23, 2023

The True Intrepid - Sir William Stephenson

Related: Intrepid.

Video Title: The True Intrepid - Sir William Stephenson. Source: WW2TV. Date Published: July 27, 2021. Description:

Our guest today is former teacher and journalist, Bill Macdonald, the author of The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents, and Intrepid's Last Secrets: Then and Now. 

The intelligence exploits of Canadian spymaster William Stephenson were celebrated in his lifetime in espionage lore the world over. This mysterious man, known widely as “Intrepid,” established the secret WWII organization known as British Security Coordination, and is said to be the real-life model for James Bond. 

Bill has spent half a life time researching the subject and he will share some of these findings with us. Who was William Stephenson? Bill will help us sort out the true and the untrue and as in all these cases the truth is nearly always more interesting than the fiction.

September 22, 2023

Pakistan's Clandestine Support For The Crazy Khalistan Project

  If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

According to Canadian officials there is ample evidence pointing to India's direct involvement in the killing of a Sikh extremist in British Columbia back in June.

That evidence has not been shared with the Canadian public and the world. 

To accuse without evidence is slander, a crime more heinous than murder. So let's hope for Canada’s sake that Trudeau didn't just wake up one morning and decide to burn bridges with India for political calculations.

What is at stake is not the legality of a murder on Canadian soil, but the dismemberment of India by foreign powers who are in league with local religious extremists.

The question is not why India decided to kill its enemies, but why does Canada harbour them and give them political and legal cover?

Canada should ally itself with India, a stable secular democracy, not religious extremists and their nearby state terrorist sponsor, Pakistan. 

Based on moral, economic, and geostrategic reasons, Canada is on the wrong side in this war.

II. What Is Khalistan 

After its defeat in its war against India the military government of Pakistan ceded the territory of East Bengal, which became known as Bangladesh. Ever since Pakistan's leaders have resolved to take revenge by aiding religious radicals with the aim of grabbing land from India. Some countries don't know how to lose with grace.

They found willing allies in the militaristic and martyrdom seeking Sikhs, whose Khalistan homeland will stretch deep into Indian territory according to their own official maps. 

Much like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Shiite clergy in Iran, and Pakistan itself, the Sikh extremists want to create a religious state called Khalistan. Apparently the region's track record has been great so far. 

Every little sect and cult believe their utopia will be God's gift to mankind. But theocracies are inherently unstable.

The Khalistan extremist groups, who include among their ranks great and pious warriors of the Sikh faith, are not keen students of history and geography. If they were they would distance themselves from Pakistan. 

But their Khalistan utopia won't include any of Pakistan's current territory where Sikhs also live, which means it is not a genuine independence or freedom movement deserving of foreign support. They are beholden to Pakistan for the success of their revolt. 

So ignore the freedom and independence rhetoric. The Khalistan extremists are nothing more than foot soldiers for a corrupt Muslim nation in which they are persecuted. Most Sikhs in India are intelligent enough to recognize this and don't support them. 


An excerpt from, "Holy War Against India" By Conor Cruise O'Brien, The Atlantic, August 1988:

"What are you fighting for?" I asked.

"Khalistan. "

"What exactly is Khalistan?"

At a nod from Narvir Singh, the soldier handed me a map, helpfully headed in English "Map of Khalistan." I looked at the map in confusion.

"But this is a map of India!" I said.

"Not all of the present India," Narvir Singh said, in scholarly correction. "It does not include Jammu and Kashmir."

The map of Khalistan, formerly India, minus Jammu and Kashmir, was covered with markings in the Gurmukhi script, the written language of the Sikh scriptures. I had the notations translated for me after I left the Golden Temple complex. There were some important changes in place names. New Delhi was renamed "Tenth Guru City," after the warrior guru, Govind Singh. And the airport at Delhi, now known as Indira Gandhi International Airport, had become Beant Singh International Airport, after Mrs. Gandhi's martyred Sikh assassin.

From an Indian point of view, this last change is equivalent to renaming the John F. Kennedy International Airport the Lee Harvey Oswald International Airport.

Narvir Singh could see, apparently, that I was having some difficulty in assimilating the proposition that Khalistan is not so much a secessionist project as a project for the annexation of India by the Sikhs, who number less than two percent of the population of the subcontinent. Narvir Singh said something in a very low voice, charged with emotion. The soldier translated: "It is a little boy walking in a room. Soon it will have the whole house."

The project of Kalistan, as expounded to me in the precincts of the Golden Temple by the representatives of the Panthic Committee, appears about as demented as a political project can be. Yet there is some method in the madness. This is reflected in the omission of Jammu and Kashmir. These provinces are claimed by Pakistan, which covertly backs Khalistan. The developing unrest in the northern part of the Punjab, bordering on Jammu and Kashmir, is favorable to Pakistan's hopes of recovering what it regards as its lost provinces, as well as paying off a number of other old scores.

More than anything else, Khalistan is a project for bringing about the destruction of the Indian state in a welter of communal disturbances, of which the Sikhs see themselves as the spearhead. The Punjab Sikhs Lawyers Council speaks in the name of the "human rights of Sikhs and other oppressed nations." The Sikhs are looking for allies and have found some. There were Naxalites in the Golden Temple complex before the storming in 1984. At the Sikh rally in Ludhiana there was a sizable Indian-Muslim contingent, marching behind a green flag with a crescent and a star: another symptom of the Pakistan connection.

I am afraid the Khalistan insurgency is likely to prove prolonged and bloody. As far as the Sikhs are concerned, the insurgency is deeply rooted in their religion and tradition. If attacks by Sikhs against Hindus provoke ferocious Hindu backlash -- as happened in November of 1984 in Delhi, after Mrs. Gandhi's murder -- the Sikh alienation from the rest of India will undoubtedly become more widespread. But even as it is, the Sikh majority is protective of the Sikh insurgents, and likely to remain so.

In Delhi, political leaders are still trying to find a formula that will reconcile the Sikhs to their place in Indian society. The effort, in itself, is no doubt praiseworthy. But I must say that nothing I encountered in Ludhiana or in Amritsar did anything to encourage a belief that a stable and voluntary political accommodation is possible between the secular and democratic state of India, on the one hand, and the sacral nationalism of the Sikhs, on the other. It is in the interests of all the peoples of India -- including the Sikhs, though they don't know it -- that the force that prevails will be that of India; and that the state will be faithful to its own basic anti-communal principles and constitution, repressing both Sikh terrorism and any recurrence of Hindu mob violence against the Sikh population.

An excerpt from, "'There’s a reason Khalistanis are not antagonising Pak by claiming Lahore'" By Shruti Sonal, Times of India, March 27, 2023:
With pro-Khalistani groups stirring up trouble again, Shruti Sonal speaks to Terry Milewski, veteran Canadian journalist and author of the book ‘Blood for Blood: Fifty Years of the Global Khalistan Project’ about his assessment of the situation and the role of cyber warfare.

In light of the unfurling of the flag at the Indian embassy in Britain, and the referendum in Brisbane, do you feel there has been a sudden spike in Khalistani activity overseas?

There’s no doubt that there’s a spike. The dramatic developments in Punjab and the Sikhs for Justice referendum shows the Khalistani supporters are trying to generate as much anger as possible. However, while a combination of these events certainly gives the impression that the movement is on the march again, it needs to be contextualised. Today, I don’t see acts of terrorism or planes being hijacked and bombed like they were in the 1980s. If you go down the street waving flags and shout ‘Khalistan Zindabad’, that’s not illegal. Referendums are not illegal; we’ve had them in Quebec. And unless there’s a serious breach of law or violence, western governments are going to watch. But it would be a good idea not to panic. We’re nowhere closer to forming Khalistan than we were decades ago. Yes, these people are making plenty of noise, but that’s all they seem to have at the moment.

Why does support for the movement grow among the diaspora, even though it has dwindled at home?

It’s the feebleness of the official response by western governments that has opened the doors for Khalistanis. The talk of an ongoing continuous genocide of Sikhs in India is made up; it’s fiction. 1984 is unforgivable and a stain on Indian history. There’s no defence of that. But it was years ago, and isn’t the reality anymore. Unfortunately, there’s no political leadership that’s willing to say to the diaspora: if this was indeed the case, why would people living in Punjab not be voting for separatists? A lot of people forget that there are regular referendums on Sikh separatism in India every time Punjab has an election. What happened last year? (The pro-Khalistan leader) Simranjit Singh Mann might have won a seat, but his party (Shiromani Akali Dal-Amritsar) got just 2.5% of the vote. BJP got twice as many votes as the Sikh separatists. In the election before that, NOTA had more votes than the separatists.

Does this idea of Khalistan lack coherence?

The idea of Khalistan lacks intellectual coherence on multiple fronts. There’s not only an absence of information on what it means, but also how to get there. Where is Khalistan? What is the state going to look like? What kind of governance would it have? What role will non-Sikhs play in it? What will the map be? What about the parts in Pakistan? What about Lahore, the seat of Maharaja Ranjit Singh? What about the birthplace of Guru Nanak? These places are fundamental to Sikh culture and history, and yet, they’re not being claimed. Why? Khalistanis have had a long tradition of avoiding these questions.

How much role is Pakistan playing in fomenting trouble? And China?

In order to answer this, it is crucial to understand the hypothetical creation of Khalistan. If it were to exist, Khalistan would not be a friend of India. Where is it going to get help? Where else but Pakistan, the only country that has been supporting the movement for its own strategic reasons. There’s a reason why Khalistanis are not antagonising the Pakistanis by claiming areas such as Lahore. Pakistan has given them a safe haven, weapons training, and rhetorical support for a long time. Pakistan’s involvement looks very dangerous at the moment and is a concern for the whole world. Pakistan itself is relying economically and strategically on China, and that makes things more complicated.

Video Title: 'Sikhs Leading Khalistani Movement Swear Undying Loyalty To Pakistan.’ Source: StratNewsGlobal. Date Published: September 16, 2020.

Continuing to be pushed by Sikhs operating in US, UK and Canada the Khalistani movement operates with the full knowledge and tacit support of Pakistan, claims a recently released report called Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan. Veteran investigative journalist Terry Milewski who provided research for the report and has been covering the Khalistani movement for over 30 years, explains in an interview to Ashwin Ahmad that their leaders swear undying loyalty to Pakistan so much so that all the land they claim for an independent nation is demanded from the Indian side of Punjab, never Pakistani Punjab. 

Milewski also points out that in his investigations, he came across a map released by Khalistani separatists which includes not just Punjab but territories that would go all the way up to New Delhi. He contends that if this map were to ever become reality it could block the rest of India’s access to Jammu and Kashmir. This suits Pakistan’s cause who are looking to ‘avenge their humiliation’ against India for the 1971 war. Separatist Sikhs too have a vested interest as Pakistan remains their safe haven. The biggest example of this is Talvinder Singh Parmar - mastermind of the Air India 182 bombings - who fled Canada for Pakistan and remained there till he was shot and killed by Punjab police while trying to cross the border in 1992.

September 21, 2023

Conor Cruise O'Brien - Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution


Related: David L. Holmes: Jefferson's Theology.


Donal Conor David Dermot Donat Cruise O'Brien (3 November 1917 – 18 December 2008, often nicknamed "The Cruiser", was an Irish diplomat, politician, writer, historian and academic, who served as Minister for Posts and Telegraphs from 1973 to 1977, a Senator for Dublin University from 1977 to 1979, a Teachta D├íla (TD) for the Dublin North-East constituency from 1969 to 1977, and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from January 1973 to March 1973.

An excerpt from, "The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800" By Conor Cruise O'Brien, University of Chicago Press, 1996:

In an address at Michigan State University on 5 May 1995, President Clinton warned right-wing paramilitaries not to attempt "to appropriate our sacred symbols for paranoid purposes."

The President was speaking in the aftermath of the destruction, apparently by American right-wing fanatics, of the Federal building in Oklahoma City and its occupants on 19 April 1995. The aftermath of that ghastly act had brought media reports of widespread paramilitary conspiracies in several states—and notably around the militia groups in Michigan—for the organization of armed resistance to the Federal Government. The President was seeking to exclude such conspirators from what is called "the American civil religion."

There is quite a copious literature about the American civil religion and, while there are differences about the exact nature of this powerful but nebulous concept, there is also a broad consensus about its general nature.

The term "civil religion" was first used by Rousseau and refers to "the religious dimension of the polity." American civil religion has been summed up as "an institutionalized collection of sacred beliefs providing sources of cohesion and prophetic guidance through times of national crises."2 Among the sacred beliefs, a cult of liberty has been important from very early on. Robert N. Bellah quotes a 1770 observer as noting that "the minds of the people are wrought up to as high a degree of enthusiasm by the word liberty as could have been expected had religion been the cause."

In the American civil religion, liberty, nationalism, and faith are fused. As Norman Mailer put it: "In America the country was the religion. And all the other religions of the land were fed from that first religion."

James H. Smylie declared, around the same time: "Civil religion is the way we have identified ourselves as God's people and under his providence, the way we have invoked divine sanction in the use of power and in the support of civil authority and the way in which we justify our national actions."

Central to the American civil religion are two eighteenth-century documents: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Around these documents, and linked with them in the religion, is a limited number of historical figures; for all Americans, the Founding Fathers; for most Americans, also Abraham Lincoln. In the pantheon of the American civil religion, however, two holy personages stand out with larger halos. 

Video Title: Myth of Thomas Jefferson O'Brien. Source: Congressional Research Institute 2. Date Published: June 7, 2022.

September 20, 2023

Report: Pak's IMF Bailout Linked to Secret U.S. Arms Deal for Ukraine | Vantage with Palki Sharma

Washington and London are backing losing horses. Russia and India are large civilizations with rich histories. Ukraine and Pakistan are corrupt bankrupt outposts, whose only value seems to be as sacrificial pawns in grand geopolitical games. 

They are newly invented countries without sovereignty and without honour. Their entire national identities are based on hatred of everything Russian and Indian. 

You can't build a successful country on hate alone. And the pipeline of U.S. weapons and money won't last forever. 

Video Title: Report: Pak's IMF Bailout Linked to Secret U.S. Arms Deal for Ukraine | Vantage with Palki Sharma. Source: Firstpost. Date Published: September 18, 2023.