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Basic Texts

Leviathan

Thomas Hobbes

Cambridge University Press; Rev Student edition, 1996

Leviathan
 

Hobbes' Leviathan (written in 1651) is one of the greatest pieces of political philosophy written in the English language, and one of the primary sources for the concept of liberal democracy. It was Leviathan that first pushed for the shift from governmental legitimacy via the Divine right of kings to legitimacy via the consent of the governed. Since its first publication, Richard Tuck's edition of Leviathan has been recognized as the single most accurate and authoritative text, and for this revised edition Professor Tuck has provided a much-amplified and expanded introduction. Other vital study aids include an extensive guide to further reading, a note on textual matters, a chronology of important events and brief biographies of important persons mentioned in Hobbes' text.

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Civilization and Its Discontents

Sigmund Freud

W. W. Norton & Company, 1989 (Reissue Edition)

Civilization and Its Discontents
 

Civilization and Its Discontents is one of the last books written by Freud, in the decade before his death. It was first published in German in 1929. In it, Freud states his views on the broad question of man's place in the world, a place Freud defines in terms of ceaseless conflict between the individual's quest for freedom and society's demand for conformity. Freud's theme is that what works for civilization doesn't necessarily work for man. Freud believed that man, by nature aggressive and egotistical, seeks self-satisfaction. But culture inhibits his instinctual drives. The result is a pervasive and familiar guilt for all those "bad" impulses, fantasies, etc. Freud's great experience richly illuminates the tension between men and their institutions.

We disagree with Freud's view that man is inherently egotistical. But we don't blame him for drawing that conclusion from the facts of human history (and the individuals who he studied). Nothing short of a Spiritual Force of the most profound kind, coupled with a global Spiritual Transformation, will be capable of undermining human egoity as the prime mover of human history.

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From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life

Jacques Barzun

HarperCollins, 2000

From Dawn To Decadence
 

In the last half-millennium, as the noted cultural critic and historian Jacques Barzun observes, great revolutions have swept the Western world. Each has brought profound change — for instance, the remaking of the commercial and social worlds wrought by the rise of Protestantism and by the decline of hereditary monarchies. And each, Barzun hints, is too little studied or appreciated today, in a time he does not hesitate to label as decadent.

To leaf through Barzun's sweeping, densely detailed but lightly written survey of the last 500 years is to ride a whirlwind of world-changing events. Barzun ponders, for instance, the tumultuous political climate of Renaissance Italy, which yielded mayhem and chaos, but also the work of Michelangelo and Leonardo — and, he adds, the scientific foundations for today's consumer culture of boom boxes and rollerblades. He considers the 16th-century varieties of religious experimentation that arose in the wake of Martin Luther's 95 theses, some of which led to the repression of individual personality, others of which might easily have come from the "Me Decade." Along the way, he offers a miniature history of the detective novel, defends Surrealism from its detractors, and derides the rise of professional sports, packing in a wealth of learned and often barbed asides.

Never shy of controversy, Barzun writes from a generally conservative position; he insists on the importance of moral values, celebrates the historical contributions of Christopher Columbus, and twits the academic practitioners of political correctness. Whether accepting of those views or not, even the most casual reader will find much that is new or little-explored in this attractive venture into cultural history.

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War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Chris Hedges

Anchor, 2003

War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
 

"The communal march against an enemy generates a warm, unfamiliar bond with our neighbors, our community, our nation, wiping out unsettling undercurrents of alienation and dislocation," writes Chris Hedges, a foreign correspondent for the New York Times. In War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, Hedges draws on his experiences covering conflicts in Bosnia, El Salvador and Israel as well as works of literature from the Iliad to Hannah Arendt's The Origins of Totalitarianism to look at what makes war so intoxicating for soldiers, politicians and ordinary citizens. He discusses outbreaks of nationalism, the wartime silencing of intellectuals and artists, the ways in which even a supposedly objective press glorifies the battlefield and other universal features of war. He argues not for pacifism but for responsibility and humility on the part of those who wage war.

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The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence

Francis A. Boyle
Foreward by Philip Berrigan

Ballantine Books, 1994

The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence
 

As the U.S. "war on terrorism" hurtles into uncharted waters, challenging accepted norms of international law and setting a pattern for peremptory state behavior, could a nuclear strike against a non-nuclear "rogue state" become an American option? Could conflicts between other nuclear states (such as India and Pakistan, or China and Taiwan) go nuclear?

In The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, Francis A. Boyle argues the Bush Administration’s toying with the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Afghanistan, its intent to proceed with National Missile Defense, to renew nuclear testing, and to develop "bunker-busting" nuclear weapons, will have disastrous impact on existing international efforts to rein in the global nuclear arms race through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Already, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has fallen before the Bush Administration's scythe.

This book provides a succinct and detailed guide to understanding the arms race from Hiroshima/Nagasaki through the SALT I, SALT II, ABM and START efforts at arms control, to Star Wars/National Missile Defense, U.S. unilateral abrogation of the ABM Treaty, and events in Afghanistan and beyond. The book clarifies the relevant international law, from the Hague Conventions through the Nuremberg Principles to the recent World Court Advisory Opinion, as well as tracing contradictions in and contraventions of domestic guidelines established in the U.S. Army Field Manual of 1956 on The Law of Land Warfare, which remains the official primer for U.S. military personnel concerning the laws of war to which they must regard themselves as subject.

More disturbingly, Boyle reviews the intricacies of the foreign policy controversies and objectives which mark the development of American nuclear policy, often pressed forward by civilian administrations seeking to promote their geopolitical agenda over the advice and desires of the American military itself. This book is an effective tool and a "must read" for the burgeoning anti-nuclear and peace movements, church groups, and lawyers defending anti-nuclear resisters. It should also prove instructive for the diplomatic community, and for civilian and military personnel who frame and carry out America’s nuclear policies, who must weigh the possibility of being summoned one day before an international war crimes tribunal.

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Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe

Graham Allison

Times Books, August, 2004

Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe
 

A founding dean of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Allison applies a long, distinguished career in government and academia to this sobering presentation of U.S. vulnerability to a terrorist nuclear attack. While he begins by asserting such an attack is preventable, the balance of his text is anything but reassuring. Allison begins by describing the broad spectrum of groups who could intend a nuclear strike against the U.S. They range from an al-Qaeda with its own Manhattan Project to small and determined doomsday cults. Their tools can include a broad spectrum of weapons, either stolen or homemade from raw materials increasingly available worldwide.

Once terrorists acquire a nuclear bomb, Allison argues, its delivery to an American target may be almost impossible to stop under current security measures. The Bush administration, correct in waging war against nuclear terrorism, has not, he says, yet developed a comprehensive counter strategy. Arguing that the only way to eliminate nuclear terrorism's threat is to lock down the weapons at the source, Allison recommends nothing less than a new international order based on no insecure nuclear material, no new facilities for processing uranium or enriching plutonium and no new nuclear states.

Those policies, Allison believes, do not stretch beyond the achievable, if pursued by a combination of quid pro quos and intimidation in an international context of negotiation and a U.S. foreign policy he describes as "humble." A humble policy in turn will facilitate building a world alliance against nuclear terrorism and acquiring the intelligence necessary for success against prospective nuclear terrorists. It will also require time, money and effort. Like the Cold War, the war on nuclear terrorism will probably be a long struggle in the twilight. But no student of the fact, Allison asserts, doubts that another major terrorist attack is in the offing. "We do not have the luxury," he declares, "of hoping the beast will simply go away."

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Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble

Lester R. Brown

Times Books, August, 2004

Plan B: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble
 

Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute, believes that "we can build an economy that does not destroy its natural support systems, a global community where the basic needs of all the earth's people are satisfied, and a world that will allow us to think of ourselves as civilized." Brown (Eco-Economy) backs up his argument with clear and well-reasoned text that outlines how to solve the world's severe environmental problems.

According to Brown, the earth's populations are currently living in a bubble economy based on reckless consumption of natural resources. Because of water shortages, soil erosion and rising temperatures, grain production has seriously fallen off. If this situation continues, especially in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent, hunger and disease will prevail and lead to disastrous consequences for the entire world.

Drawing on careful research, Brown outlines the details of Plan B, a committed global cooperative effort to raise water and land productivity, cut carbon emissions and stabilize population growth before time runs out. He provides many individual success stories, such as the Netherlands' embrace of the bicycle for transportation instead of the environmentally poisonous automobile. Since 1989, Iran has cut its spiraling population growth through education and access to contraception.

In this measured plea, Brown points out that for Plan B to be adopted worldwide, it desperately needs the leadership of the U.S., as the wealthiest nation on earth, to change its focus and resources from a military presence to one that fosters a global economy that will sustain generations to come.

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The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

Samuel P. Huntington

Simon & Schuster, 1998

The Clash of Civilizations
 

The thesis of this provocative and insightful book is the increasing threat of violence arising from renewed conflicts between countries and cultures that base their traditions on religious faith and dogma. This argument moves past the notion of ethnicity to examine the growing influence of a handful of major cultures — Western, Eastern Orthodox, Latin American, Islamic, Japanese, Chinese, Hindu, and African — in current struggles across the globe. Samuel P. Huntington, a political scientist at Harvard University and foreign policy aide to President Clinton, argues that policymakers should be mindful of this development when they interfere in other nations' affairs.

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The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization

Thomas L. Friedman

Anchor, 2003

The Lexus and the Olive Tree
 

One day in 1992, Pulitzer Prize winning author Thomas Friedman toured a Lexus factory in Japan and marveled at the robots that put the luxury cars together. That evening, as he ate sushi on a Japanese bullet train, he read a story about yet another Middle East squabble between Palestinians and Israelis. And it hit him: Half the world was lusting after those Lexuses, or at least the brilliant technology that made them possible, and the other half was fighting over who owned which olive tree. Friedman, the well-traveled New York Times foreign-affairs columnist, peppers The Lexus and the Olive Tree with stories that illustrate his central theme: that globalization — the Lexus — is the central organizing principle of the post-cold war world, even though many individuals and nations resist by holding onto what has traditionally mattered to them — the olive tree. While many people are familiar with the word, few of us fully comprehend the meaning of globalization. As Friedman sees it, the concept, at first glance, is all about American hegemony, about Disneyfication of all corners of the earth. But the reality is far more complex than that, involving international relations, global markets, and the rise of the power of individuals (Bill Gates, Osama Bin Laden) relative to the power of nations. The Lexus and the Olive Tree is an excellent overview of the factors that make up globalization. Its chief limitation is that it leaves out spirituality.

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The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

Thomas L. Friedman

Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 2005

The Lexus and the Olive Tree
 

What Friedman means by "flat" is "connected": the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet. This in itself should not be news to anyone. But the news that Friedman has to deliver is that just when we stopped paying attention to these developments — when the dot-com bust turned interest away from the business and technology pages and when 9/11 and the Iraq War turned all eyes toward the Middle East — is when they actually began to accelerate. Globalization 3.0, as he calls it, is driven not by major corporations or giant trade organizations like the World Bank, but by individuals: desktop freelancers and innovative startups all over the world (but especially in India and China) who can compete — and win — not just for low-wage manufacturing and information labor but, increasingly, for the highest-end research and design work as well. (He doesn't forget the "mutant supply chains" like Al-Qaeda that let the small act big in more destructive ways.) Friedman tells his eye-opening story with the catchy slogans and globe-hopping anecdotes that readers of his earlier books and his New York Times columns will know well, and also with a stern sort of optimism.

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The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War

Robert D. Kaplan

Vintage Books, 2001

The Coming Anarchy
 

Robert Kaplan warns of a "bifurcated world divided between societies like ours, producing goods and services that the rest of the world wants, and those mired in various forms of chaos." This is a familiar theme for previous Kaplan readers (Balkan Ghosts, The Ends of the Earth). For those unacquainted with Kaplan, however, The Coming Anarchy is a fine introduction to one of the most important voices on the future of society and international relations. Kaplan mixes the intense reportage of a travel writer with the sharp wisdom of a foreign-policy expert to deliver what he calls "an unrelenting record of uncomfortable truths, of the kind that many of us implicitly acknowledge but will not publicly accept." The Coming Anarchy is also a disturbing book: Kaplan's vision of the future is a bleak one, full of ethnic conflict as the world falls away from a cold war that at least provided a kind of stability in even the shakiest of countries. That's gone now, of course, and Kaplan's descriptions of life and politics in Sierra Leone, Russia, India, and elsewhere are keenly troubling.

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The End of History and The Last Man

Franc
is Fukuyama

Perennial, Reprint edition, 1993

The End of History and The Last Man
 

In a broad, ambitious work of political philosophy, Fukuyama asserts that history is directional and that its endpoint is capitalist liberal democracy. To begin with, he examines the problem of whether it makes sense to posit a coherent and directional history that would lead the greater part of humanity to liberal democracy. Having answered in the affirmative, he assesses the regulatory effect of modern natural science, a societal activity consensually deemed cumulative as well as directional in its impact. Fukuyama next considers humanity's struggle for recognition, drawing on Plato and Hegel. In this context, he reinterprets culture, ethical codes, labor, nationalism, religion, war, and allied phenomena from the past, projecting ways in which the desire for acknowledgement could become manifest in the future. Eventually, the author addresses history's presumptive end and the so-called "last man", an unheroic construct (drawn from Tocqueville and Nietzsche) who has traded prideful belief in individual worth for the civilized comforts of self-preservation.

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Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity

Franc
is Fukuyama

Free Press, 1996

Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity
 

Fukuyama examines the impact of culture on economic life, society, and success in the new global economy. He argues that the most pervasive cultural characteristic influencing a nation's prosperity and ability to compete is the level of trust or cooperative behavior based upon shared norms. In comparison with low-trust societies (China, France, Italy, Korea), which need to negotiate and often litigate rules and regulations, high-trust societies like those in Germany and Japan are able to develop innovative organizations and hold down the cost of doing business. Fukuyama argues that the United States, like Japan and Germany, has been a high-trust society historically but that this status has eroded in recent years. This well-researched book provides a fresh, new perspective on how economic prosperity is grounded in genuine cultural life (or the lack thereof).

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Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft

Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson (editors)

Oxford University Press, 1995

 

Religion: The Missing Dimension of Statecraft
 

A collection of case studies and theoretical essays on the role of religion in international conflicts, by members of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and various specialists in religion, education and conflict resolution. Offers a systematic account of modern cases in which religious or spiritual factors have played a part in resolving conflict. Examines issues such as the religious conciliation between the Sandinistas and the East Coast Indians of Nicaragua, Quaker conciliation during the Nigerian civil war, and the role of the Catholic church in the Philippines revolution of 1986. Includes notes on contributors and a foreword by former president Jimmy Carter.

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The Future of Peace: On the Front Lines with the World's Great Peacemakers

Scott A. Hunt

Harper SanFrancisco, 2002

The Future of Peace
 

"It is much easier to see the problem than to find the answer!" declares the Dalai Lama while discussing the future of peace with first-time author Hunt, who has a degree in international law and teaches Buddhism at UC-Berkeley. The Dalai Lama, Dr. Jane Goodall and Burmese dissident Aung San Suu Kyi are some of the great peacemakers whose eloquent voices are captured by Hunt in this bold attempt to discover the causes of human suffering and the antidote to violence. While in Cambodia, Hunt denotes the historical forces that led to the Khmer Rouge genocide and unapologetically details America's role in creating "one of the darkest episodes in human history." He converses with the famed Buddhist monk Maha Ghosananda, "the Gandhi of Cambodia," about the importance of compassion and forgiveness, even toward one's enemy. The ability of Maha Ghosananda to forgive the Khmer Rouge, responsible for the murder of his entire family, is incomprehensible until Hunt invites the monk to explain his Buddhist philosophy. Hunt himself displays courage and persistence in gaining access to these minds. He details his discreet communications with underground operatives in Burma who helped him evade military intelligence officers hoping to block his access to Suu Kyi. Similarly, in Israel, Hunt defies cautionary warnings to cross into the Gaza Strip to show the oppressive conditions of Palestinian refugee camps. In the words of Maha Ghosananda, "you are who you associate with," and through these accounts, Hunt hopes we all might become a little more peaceful.

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Toward a Psychology of Being

Abraham H. Maslow

John Wiley & Sons, 1998

Toward a Psychology of Being
 

Abraham Maslow's theories of self-actualization and the hierarchy of human needs are the cornerstone of modern humanistic psychology, and no book so well epitomizes those ideas as his classic Toward a Psychology of Being. A profound book, its influence continues to spread, more than a quarter century after its author's death, beyond psychology and throughout the humanities, social theory, and business management theory. Of course, the book's enduring popularity stems from the important questions it raises and the answers it provides concerning what is fundamental to human nature and psychological well-being, and what is needed to promote, maintain, and restore basic mental and emotional well-being. But its success also has to do with Maslow's unique ability to convey difficult philosophical concepts with passion, precision, and astonishing clarity, and, through the power of his words, to ignite in readers a sense of creative joy and wholeness toward which we, as beings capable of self-actualization, strive.

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Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out

Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson

Ballantine Books, 1994

Spiritual Politics
 

This is an involving study of the cosmic, karmic and etheric dimensions of politics, world affairs and current events. Drawing from the great spiritual traditions, practices and practitioners, McLaughlin and Davidson, cofounders of the New Synthesis Think Tank and the Sirius Ecological Community, meticulously present the role of metaphysics in the political realm. Looking to ancient wisdom for answers to today's social, economic and environmental ills, they offer a new paradigm of transformational politics: making the political personal through spiritual practice and using this transformational paradigm to change the world from the inside out. ("We must transform ourselves if we intend to transform the world.") In uniting politics with spirituality, the authors describe their concept of the Divine (including reincarnation and a transhuman "Invisible Government" of spiritual guides) in the solemn tone of scholarly reportage. Information-intensive and chock full of empowering suggestions, intriguing stories and uplifting examples of how individuals and groups can make an impact, this thought-provoking assemblage is an enriching, mind-opening book for seekers of spiritual wisdom and political solutions. Foreword by the Dalai Lama.

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Eleutherios: The Only Truth That Sets The Heart Free

Adi Da Samraj

The Dawn Horse Press, 2001

Eleutherios
 

One can say that Kaplan (see The Coming Anarchy) and Friedman (see The Lexus and the Olive Tree) are each looking at the same world, but the former is a pessimist while the latter is an optimist. In contrast, the Spiritual Master, Adi Da Samraj, is a Realist of the ultimate kind. That is to say, Adi Da is not limited to secular world views, or even views of the Greater Reality that include linking up with astral planes, spiritual guides, and the like (as in Spiritual Politics). Adi Da grounds the observations and proposals of Eleutherios — and material reality itself, for that matter — in the priorly existing Transcendental Reality. That Enlightened State of Perfect Happiness is the ultimate human destiny, and — even beyond all the forces and needs that motivate war, crime, and all conventional discord — the deepest need of every human heart. It is therefore necessarily at the center of a road to human sanity on both a local and a global scale. But the entry price that must be paid for Enlightenment is the complete transcendence of one's own ego.

excerpt from the book:

Human societies are always tending to be modeled after the un-Enlightened pattern of the individual ego. The political and social systems of the present-day world are not generated by literally Enlightened (or even highly "evolved") leaders, ideals, or institutions. . . . The entire world is now nearly out of control with egoic motives. Mankind, indoctrinated by materialistic philosophies, ego-serving technologies, and gross political idealisms, is possessed by the mechanical and emotionally negative efforts of self-indulgence (and anxious release-seeking efforts of all kinds), and chronically depressed by the frustration of the Spiritual and Divine impulses that are the inherent characteristics of the heart of every living being. The ego-"I", whether individual or collective, is eventually reduced to sorrow and despair (or chronic life-depression), because of (and as an experiential result of) the inability of life (in and of itself) to generate Happiness and Joy and Immortality. And that self-contained depression finally becomes anger, or loveless confrontation with the total world and every form of presumed "not-self" . . . And when anger becomes the mood of human societies, the quality of fire (or the primitive and destructive intent of the frustrated ego) invades the plane of humanity. That fire is expressed as all of the aggression and competitiveness, and all of the resultant sufferings and painful illusions, of mankind, including all of the ego-based politics of confrontation. And that ego-fire is, finally, summarized in the acts of war. . . .

Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Avatar Adi Da's insistence on the primary importance of human-scale cooperative community as the basic unit of the successful state is bold and refreshing. Each of us bears responsibility to practice, moment to moment, the ego-surrendering sacrifice that makes life sacred at the community level, peaceful on the level of interaction among nations. Adi Da's Teaching is neither utopian nor dissociative; it is simply a radically new human politics based on the Truth. Even as He transcends the common bonds of the human, Adi Da remains the Great Teacher of the pragmatic human situation. How incredibly blessed that He is here at the moment when we need Him most!

Dan Hamburg, Former member of Congress; Executive Director, Voice of the Environment

"I do not know how such Divine Intervention works, but I have absolutely no doubt that Avatar Adi Da Is Who He Says He Is."

Rolf Carriere, UNICEF Representative; United Nations Development Specialist

The life and teaching of Avatar Adi Da Samraj are of profound and decisive spiritual significance at this critical moment in history."

Bryan Deschamps, Senior Adviser at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees; Former Dean of the Carmelite House of Studies, Australia; Former Dean of Trinity College, University of Melbourne

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