Thomas Paine: The American Crisis

The Great Conversation

“These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thus, 18th century author Thomas Paine begins the first pamphlet of his series titled The American Crisis. Paine wrote the series in the midst of the American Revolutionary War fought between the American Colonists and the British Empire. Colonial General George Washington regarded the first pamphlet to be so inspiring that he had it read to his troops at Valley Forge. In this video, we will analyze the rhetorical strategies Paine employs to strengthen the morale of the American Colonists and to publicly condemn the Tories, who are colonists loyal to Britain.

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Thucydides: Melian Dialogue

Wrath_of_Achilles2

In his 2012 book, On Politics, political historian Alan Ryan reflects on the conflict between Athens and Melos during the Peloponnesian War – “It is famous as the worst atrocity committed by a usually decent society, but even more as one of the most famous assertions in history of the rights of unbridled power.” In this video, we will explore the encounter between the Political Realism of Athens and the Political Idealism of Melos.

The Peloponnesian War was fought by the Athenian empire against Sparta’s Peloponnesian League from 431-404 BC. Melos was a small island that wished to remain neutral during the war. The Athenians threatened to destroy Melos unless it became an ally of Athens and paid tribute. Despite the threats, Melos refused to agree to the Athenian terms. As a result, Athens slaughtered all Melian men of military age, and enslaved all of the women and children.

In the ancient Greek historian Thucydides’ account of the War, he imagines the dialogue that took place between the Athenian and Melian ambassadors before the battle. The Melian ambassadors assert that though they are weaker than Athens, they will prevail against them with the help of the gods because the Athenians are unjustly abusing their power. “We trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust.”

The Athenians retort that both gods and men respect only one thing – power. “Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to exist forever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do the same as we do.”

The political policies of Athens and Melos illustrate the competing theories of Political Realism and Political Idealism. Political Realists believe that maintaining power and acquiring more power are and ought to be the primary motivations of States. Questions of morality are secondary to this pursuit of power. Political Idealists, on the other hand, believe that human beings are naturally altruistic and that questions of morality ought to be a primary consideration in forming the policies of a State.

It is important to note that Political Idealists are not pacifists. Melos chose to go to war rather than to accept Athens’ terms of peace. The difference between Athens and Melos is the motivation behind their actions. Athens was motivated by the maintenance and acquisition of power while Melos was motivated by purely moral sentiments.

Ultimately, the victory of Realism over Idealism, or vice versa, is dependent upon the military strength of the States that embrace each theory. In this case, Athens possessed military superiority over Melos, and utterly defeated the small island nation. In World War II, however, Idealism achieved a victory over Realism because the Allied Powers – who were primarily motivated by moral sentiments – possessed military superiority over the Axis Powers – who were primarily motivated by a desire for power.

To conclude, the clash between Athens and Melos during the Peloponnesian War has much to teach us about international affairs and the competing theories of Political Realism and Political Idealism. History has demonstrated that the victory of one theory over the other is dependent upon the military strength of the States in conflict. Thucydides’ account of the Peloponnesian War provides a concise expression of this harsh fact: “The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”

Source: Thucydides: Melian Dialogue

William James: The Moral Equivalent of War

The Great Conversation

In his essay titled, The Moral Equivalent of War, 19th century American philosopher William James writes, “History is a bath of blood. Our ancestors have bred pugnacity into our bone and marrow, and thousands of years of peace won’t breed it out of us.” Although war is horrific, it is also beneficial. Wars promote political unity by uniting people against a common enemy, and wars promote the cultivation of virtue by inspiring people to perform noble and heroic deeds of self-sacrifice. In this video, we will discuss William James’ examination of the relationship between mankind and war.

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Στη δημοσιότητα το κείμενο της συμφωνίας ελεύθερου εμπορίου TPP

πέμπτο κύμα

πηγή: The Press Project

Η Νέα Ζηλανδία έδωσε στη δημοσιότητα το κείμενο της συμφωνίας ελεύθερου εμπορίου των 12 χωρών του Ειρηνικού, το οποίο υπεγράφη στις 5 Οκτωβρίου στην Ατλάντα και χαρακτηριζόταν από πρωτοφανή μυστικότητα

Η κυβέρνηση της Νέας Ζηλανδίας η οποία υπέγραψε την συμφωνία μαζί με τις ΗΠΑ, Ιαπωνία, Αυστραλία, Καναδά, Μεξικό, Μπρουνέι, Μαλαισία, Σιγκαπούρη, Περού, Χιλή και Βιετνάμ, ανήρτησε το κείμενο στον ιστότοπό της την Πέμπτη.

Δείτε εδώ ολόκληρο το κείμενο της συμφωνίας, το οποίο αποτελείται από 30 κεφάλαια.

Αυτό που μένει πλέον, είναι το κείμενο της συμφωνίας να υπερψηφιστεί από τα κοινοβούλια των χωρών που συμμετέχουν σε αυτήν.

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SEVEN NOCTURNAL HEPTASTICHS//TRANSLATED BY MANOLIS ALIGIZAKIS

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SEVEN NOCTURNAL HEPTASTICHS

VI

Unfathomable night bitterness with no end
sleepless eyelid
pain is burnt before sobbing
loss bends before is weighed

moribund ambush
when the syllogism of its futile meander
is shattered on the apron of its destiny

ΕΠΤΑ ΝΥΧΤΕΡΙΝΑ ΕΠΤΑΣΤΙΧΑ

VI

Ανεξιχνίαστη νύχτα πίκρα δίχως άκρη
βλέφαρο ανύσταχτο
πριν βρει αναφιλητό καίγεται ο πόνος
πριν ζυγιαστεί γέρνει ο χαμός

καρτέρι μελλοθάνατο
σαν ο συλλογισμός από τον μάταιο μαίανδρο
στην ποδιά της μοίρας του συντρίβεται

~ ORIENTATIONS, Odysseus Elytis, translated by Manolis Aligizakis
~ ΠΡΟΣΑΝΑΤΟΛΙΣΜΟΙ, Οδυσσέα Ελύτη, μετάφραση Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη

CHTHONIAN BODIES, Paintings by Ken Kirkby poems by Manolis Aligizakis

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HYMNIST

I evoke the Great Spirit
to descend to my essence
ally to my ethos and

I hymn the character of man who
suddenly sprang out of my body

the head of beast to decorate
with roses and carnations
with fragrance the Gates of Heaven

to open and enter barefoot
pure as in his dream
rascal of weather and song

as he was on Earth and
in the hatred of their primeval God
men of the boats who boasted
about their shallow knowledge

let them be satisfied in
their sweet ignorance and

let me dwell in my aloofness
lonely lover of the breeze
ΥΜΝΗΤΗΣ

Το Μεγάλο Πνεύμα επικαλούμαι
στο είναι μου να εισχωρήσει
σύμμαχος του ήθους μου

κι υμνώ το χαρακτήρα του ανθρώπου
που απ’ την ύπαρξή μου ανάβλυσε
την κεφαλή του κτήνους να κοσμίσει

με ρόδα και γαρύφαλλα
και μ’ ευωδία την Πύλη Παραδείσου
ν’ ανοίξει ο άνθρωπος ξυπόλητος να μπει

σαν και στο όνειρό του αγνός
παιγνίδι του καιρού και τραγουδιού
που έζησε πάνω στη Γη

και στο προαιώνειο μίσος του Θεού
φονιάδων που με καράβια ήρθαν
με την επιφανειακή τους γνώση
στην άγνοιά τους ας είναι ευτυχισμένοι

κι εγώ ας παραμείνω απόμακρος
μονιάς της αύρας εραστής

CHTHONIAN BODIES, paintings by Ken Kirkby, Poems by Manolis Aligizakis, Libros Libertad, 2015