Recently I spoke with a good friend, the sociologist and theologian Prof. Reimer Gronemeyer, about the history and present of virtues and their importance for our community life. The encounter took place in the context of an interview I conducted for the podcast “Bannbrecher & Dammbrecher” (Spell Breakers & Dam Breakers) Below follows a transcript of the conversation. If you like, you can also listen to the German-language audio file.
Based on his compassion for the weak and disadvantaged and with the clear feeling of living in a time of heightened crises, Reimer Gronemeyer is committed in many ways to maintaining the dialogue between different parts of society. In addition to numerous publications, lectures, association activities and panel discussions, he has traveled to numerous countries in Africa. He observes a vitality and hope among the people there that he misses in Europe.
The lack may be related to the Western general standard of living, which has been rising over a long period of time – a widespread consumerism and materialism, as he has noted on various occasions – that keeps the experiences of the Third Reich from sinking into our collective consciousness more deeply. Alongside the horrors of the looming collapse of the affluent society, however, he sees an opportunity for a new beginning.
The concept of virtue, even if it has a dusty image, could prove useful in this. I had the impression that he was less concerned with the concrete virtues of classical antiquity (temperance, justice, prudence and fortitude) and Christianity (faith, love, hope) as such. Rather, he hopes they might help us remember our roots. Thus, instead of using ideas of competition and self-optimization, we could move through the time of crises with a new set of virtues that fit our culture.
“The greatest danger in which we live is perhaps the ignorance of our past, that everything that is old has to go in favor of an acceleration and innovation society that only looks forward,” he says in the interview. Towards the end, he explains that, in his view, us Westerners, just like the victims of our colonization activities, have lost almost all the cultural roots to which we could connect. It was important to realize that we were sitting on the ruins of a destroyed society before we thought about virtue.
Virtues set challenges for the individual, but they are not a program for self-promotion; they are the glue that binds communities together. It is a matter of opening one’s eyes and senses to one’s fellow man. Reimer Gronemeyer cites as an example the South African virtue “Ubuntu,” which expresses the fundamental experience that we are dependent on others and derive our humanity from looking into the face of our neighbor.
In this understanding, illnesses point to a disturbance in the community and can also be healed again through the support of the community. In Western culture, on the other hand, illness is problematized and handed over to institutions for elimination.
In European culture, instead of virtues, there is now much talk of “Western values” and a “value-based order”. We value something or attach value to it. Reimer Gronemeyer calls this attitude a “moral instant coffee.” “When you no longer want to talk about the Good, then you start talking about values,” he quotes his teacher Ivan Illich. Values belong on the stock market, he believes, not in an ethics debate. The mass uncritical use of this word testifies to an ethical breakdown, which also has to do with the fact that, in line with the current understanding of science, measurable quantities are playing an increasingly important role. The fact that “Western values” are being defended with the help of cluster bombs shows that values can be used for any kind of evil.
We often hear: “Liberty or death,” but those who said it are still alive. Gronemeyer mentions the maxim “death or virtue” in the context of Socrates’ decision not to flee from his henchmen but to stand up for the validity of virtue. When asked if we will just as easily get away with shrugging our shoulders if we do not live according to our confessions, he replies that this challenge is becoming more pressing, but the choice is up to the individual. It depends on personal courage.
The question of virtue, he said, is always also the question of the future of society: are we prepared to support the weak or are we moving toward marginalizing or even “flattening” them?
The sociologist sees the choice of suitable virtues for our time as owed to the situation, less to any dogmatic considerations. For example, he regards it as virtuous to keep open the wound of the painful experiences in his life.
Reimer Gronemeyer finds another central virtue in the consideration of how he should use his remaining life time. However, he cannot give a clear answer to this, he says. “Perhaps what we are particularly lacking at the moment, according to my impression, is the willingness to think critically, to relentlessly question one’s own existence as a question of virtue; in other words, how do we want to live?” he says. He tries to live a life of hospitality and friendship. He also mentions moderation and hope as virtues of personal importance.
In the crime novel Käferplage (to be published in English as ‘Campbell’s Fab Store’ at a later point in time), which I am currently writing and publishing as a serial story, the characters are confronted with the question of truth and reality, and how to distinguish them from lies and illusion. Here is an excerpt from the eleventh chapter.
He didn’t know what annoyed him more: that he had allowed himself to be ridiculed, or that this incredibly self-convinced person had not even considered looking at the circumstantial evidence, but instead just put it in a box labelled ” silly stuff”, along with all the other things that “everyone knows” can’t be true. The majority of people went through the world blindly, believing what they saw was self-explanatory. Yet what they saw was shown and explained to them – by media that served quite different purposes than reporting the truth. As if it were so outlandish that those who were rich and powerful would like to remain so. “If I had made billions in fraud, deceit and murder, I would likewise do whatever was necessary to ensure that people heard my innocuous explanations, not the squawking of those affected or the reports of the investigators,” Zach grumbled into his three-day beard.
Because most people could not distinguish reality from the media-produced theatrical backdrop, Tony Blair had succeeded in rushing Britain into a war against Iraq. Young soldiers had thrown their lives away helping to search for weapons of mass destruction that had been made up… to cite just one provable recent example of established media willfully painting a false reality in its entirety. Not an exception, but the rule. There were major crimes – even of breathtaking dimensions – happening right here and now in front of everyone’s eyes, but one was not allowed to mention the bare facts, either matter-of-factly or in jest, if one wanted to keep one’s income, home, friendships, freedom and health. As a private investigator, he knew only too well how that went. The worst injustices happened with the knowledge and approval, often even with the participation of the authorities, covered up by ‘journalists’ who knew when to look the other way and who to denounce. That is why he was not at all surprised that at least one of the two groups of people – the confirmers and the deniers of the authenticity of the Mal Evans Archive – had allowed themselves to be used to convey a certain impression. Resourcefulness was punished while the dog’s obedience to the master paid off. And the master wanted the unanimous display of professional or administrative authority. When everyone said, “Listen to the experts; there’s nothing to be seen here!”, only a few dared to risk a second look. Peer pressure was an effective way to bring free-grazing sheep back into the fold.
Zachary Ziegler owed his success as a detective to the fact that he did not give in to such pressure when it came to the truth. No one was immune from deception, but one had to retain the freedom to consciously perceive and admit one’s mistakes. Those who remained glued to the theatre chair – be it a chair in the stalls, be it a box seat – out of comfort, fear of standing out from the crowd or for the sake of feeling good would never know who these people on stage really were or what they were doing behind the scenes. They lived in an elaborately constructed world of make-believe. After a while, they forgot that it was artificial; it became the world as such, no matter how absurd it might get. That’s why people like Commissar Wickens disgusted Zach. They acted as doorkeepers, dictating to others the spaces in which they could mentally move, what they could or could not do, think or ignore, under penalty of social ostracism.
For someone like Zach, the taboos postulated by people like Wickens raised questions. The detective had feared he had revealed more than he had learned until the commissar had sort of poked his nose at something: the motive for the two violent deaths related to the Evans memoir – and for the disappearance of the manuscript – might have been the looming exposure of an impostor in the ranks of the world’s most successful rock band. If second-tier acts like the Monkees or Milli Vanilli were already punished with commercial annihilation for merely pretending to be musicians, the same accusation would cause an earthquake in the Beatles‘ case. It would overshadow the cherished memories of untold millions of music listeners, undermine the credibility of internationally important personalities and ruin the image of a country and an industry. Not least, billions of British pounds were at stake. Compared to that, what was a paltry million for the yellowed manuscript or the lives of two small characters who had made their living from the waste of this Beatles machinery?
Zach wanted to see if the trail Wickens had tried to throw him off of might lead him further.
Suddenly: calls for forgiveness of Corona crimes out of nowhere. Newsletters, anti-social media, and podcasts are discussing an article in The Atlantic magazine written by a certain Emily Oster. It’s titled “Let’s declare a pandemic amnesty. We need to forgive one another for what we did and said when we were in the dark about Covid.”
There are three things I will not do: first, read the article; second, do a background search on the author; third, write the blank check requested.
I will not read the piece because the headline already puts a lie to it, namely that there was a lack of reliable information on the so-called pandemic. But in fact, since the beginning of March 2020, good arguments have been presented to warn of a false alarm. For three years, Corona dissidents have tirelessly pointed out that every single aspect of this campaign bears signs of deliberate (!) deception and is causing harm. But the author uses the lie of innocent ignorance to justify her demand for amnesty for her anti-life, anti-human behavior.
Who the author is does not interest me, because by using the little word “we” she reveals herself to be a member of the fascistoid cult that planned and committed what is historically probably the most extensive crime against humanity, an unprecedented violation of natural law, causing in many respects irreparable damage – billionfold. She will have somehow earned her prominent position as the mouthpiece of the supposedly contrite, just like all the other “experts,” “authorities,” self-appointed guardians of public health, and so on who seek to evade responsibility through a blanket pardon.
No, I exclude myself from this “we” of hers emphatically. I have addressed the Corona crimes from the beginning of March 2020, have categorically refused any participation in the measures and have received in return some of what you supposed in-the-dark folks “did and said”: censorship in the name of science, torture in the name of health, hate speech in the name of truth, division in the name of solidarity, disenfranchisement in the name of the people.
No, I don’t “need to” do anything at all. Perhaps I will forgive one fellow or the other, but this is on condition that the person has understood the nature of their wrongdoing, expresses this in a credible way – for example, by stepping down from positions of power, by abandoning advantages gained or by making gestures of reparation – and, above all, displays a changed conduct. Anything else would be unreasonable.
No, there is no right to forgiveness; there is certainly no right to forgetting. Forgiveness is an attitude in which the aggrieved party considers their moral claims against the wrongdoer to be settled, after they believe justice has been served. Until then, there is no “Too bad, let’s forget it,” and never a conciliatory “In your place, I might have acted the same way.”
I stood by the truth and I was ready to pay any price for it. Because I know your reasoning; it is false from beginning to end; there is absolutely no doubt about it after careful consideration. Despite your initial panic, this should also have been clear to you after only a few weeks. But for three years you thought you could carry the abuses continuously to new extremes. You have taken out your mental unsteadiness and your sadism on children, old people and on critics, who were exposed to your aggression without protection. You are lying to yourselves if you believe that you can simply wipe away the mess you have caused with a cheap appeal to people’s need for harmony – people who you helped wearing down through propaganda, silencing, coercion and threats to their livelihood.
Have you ever asked yourselves what the difference between people like us alleged covidiots and people like you? Are we just troublemakers who accidentally got their Cassandra calls right? Or is it possible that we were spot-on with our warnings because there was a way to know wrong from right – which we insisted on walking – while you were desperately trying to silence us so you wouldn’t have to hear it? What would happen if you too rejected the claims of those supposedly “in power,” the “authorities,” the “experts,” and the “quality media”? Do you still believe in Osama and the nineteen box cutters? In weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? In concentration camps in Kosovo? In Putin the Terrible?
Why are the main criminals still on the loose? Why are they still in office or in position? Why are you still listening to their tall tales? Why are you still playing by their rules? How credible do you think we consider your conversion, as long as BooTube, FakeBook and InstaCensor continue to define the admissible corridor of opinion while totalitarian laws are still in place?
No, I don’t believe your sudden awakening, I don’t believe in your insight. You did not slip up for three years, you did it on purpose. You would do it again, anytime, because you still believe in the legitimacy of authorities to whom you ultimately subordinate yourselves. You lash out at every scapegoat they point their finger at: the communist, the Muslim, the ‘social parasite’, the Trump voter, the ‘anti-vaxxer’. You learned nothing from history, neither the history told in books, nor the history you helped to shape. You just rage on unabated. For a change, it’s the Russians’ turn to take your beating. Do you see my problem? Probably not. Forgiveness is not an option when the issue in question is far from settled.
To this day, I have not come across anyone who has apologized for their behavior over the past few years. I have also seen no report in your media, which specifies the particular misdeeds, which the aggrieved “need to” forgive now – because you do not understand what went wrong! You would have to be able to look at your total failure as a feeling, thinking human being, yet I do not have the impression that you are capable of it or even just willing. And as long as it stays that way, I can’t trust you, I can’t believe you, and for the time being I can’t forgive you. If that means that society–what is left of it – will come apart, then so be it. I want nothing to do with you and your corrupt institutions until you awaken from your fantasies of total control. Stay away from me with your paranoia. And if you think that your crime will be forgotten with time, then you are waiting in vain.
[Title image: Triumph of Virtue over Vice, by Paolo Veronese]
Obvious lies turned into truth, malpractice purported as state-of-the-art technique, all-encompassing injustice, or the normalization of collective insanity during the past couple of years, they leave many of us speechless. What the hell is it, that plagues us in these times? Isn’t it a bottomless …. evil? Our naive forefathers would have used that word without the slightest hesitation but us 21st-century internet-wisened know-it-all techno cracks, we have a problem with it. Why is that? Is it because it reminds us so much of religious superstition? Of dark fairytale forests logged out of existence long ago? It might be a mistake to deny the existence of Evil, I’ll argue, because although religious scriptures from around the world have a lot to say about the nature of evil the matter is not at all a religious one. It doesn’t require you to believe in any creed specifically, to align yourself with what is true and real about Good and Evil.
Today, on August 15th, 2022, India, and especially Auroville, is celebrating the 150th birthday of Sri Aurobindo. India’s cherished freedom fighter, philosopher and yogi, born by the name of Aurobindo Ghose, and his spiritual companion Mirra Alfassa back in the 1920s founded an ashram in the south Indian city of Pondicherry. Aurobindo developed his “Integral Yoga” philosophy there, a school of thought that teaches the integration of body, mind and spirit aspects of the human existence. He and Alfassa, which he called “the Mother”, were concerned that the convergence of systemic crises, which became pretty obvious after World War I, would lead to a catastrophic collapse of civilization in the mid-term. Aurobindo and Alfassa were neither the first nor the only ones to say so but in their time they were among the few who attributed this existential crisis of our culture to a problem with the mindset, a lack of consciousness, they said.
The ashram and from 1968 on Auroville as well were set up to prepare the human body and mind for taking in the Supramental, as they named it, the highest form of consciousness. The inhabitants of both the ashram and the city were to live a life in the practice of the Integral Yoga, to bring about this transformational goal and to give an example to people all over the world. Alfassa, the Mother, provided guidelines for the architectural setup of Auroville under the usual provisio that the specifics were to be worked out in the light of the most progressed knowledge. From December 2nd, 2021 on, staff appointed to leading positions in the Auroville Foundation by the central government in Delhi used those guidelines to dis-empower the residents, the very key element which ought to work out the conscious transformation. The alleged goal is the quickening-up of building “the City the Earth needs”. Were that true the Foundation bureaucrats would sacrifice the indispensable natural-law preconditions of the Integral Yoga, to build its architectural vessel with brute force.
From observing the Takeover crew’s behaviour it is safe to say that their purported reasons are just pretense. On every single occasion when the Foundation and their supporters took steps they played a foul game while shrouding their actions in pseudo-legal, pseudo-lawful, pseudo-moralistic and pseudo-Aurobindian pretexts. Had laws, morals or the scriptures anything to do with sincere, albeit a bit misguided intentions there would have been no need for ploys, lies, violations of rights and physical violence against those who disagree. Journalist Ashish Kothari, early-on, could rightfully state in one of his pieces,
“Bulldozers knocking down trees and threatening built-up structures at 1 am: such action can only come from a source that has no legitimacy to work during the day.”
What a stunningly clear insight. If only all of us had had it, the Foundation Office would have created much less confusion by means of misinformation and pseudo-lawful violent surprise strikes.
People ought to stay unabashed by those events. In order for us to prevail it takes focus on knowledge of objective Morality and unwavering dedication to the highest form of Truth one has access to. This is why my four-part series on Auroville & Natural Law explained at length 1) the basics of Natural Law, and briefly described how Auroville’s residents’ failure to live by that Law causes social suffering, and 2) some basics of Auroville’s founding principles. The failure of many residents to study and live by those principles deserves an in-depth discussion within the community. There is no question that, should we succeed in reverting the takeover, the very future of our township depends on our collective awakening. This won’t be for consumption by a public, though, which cannot stomach first principles even.
Worse than that. We will see that ramifications reach far beyond global authoritarianism even. “It’s Truth or the Abyss,” the Mother warned all of mankind fifty years ago. What she meant by ‘Truth’ has been described in the second article of this series. In short, it is one of the many terms for That-Which-Is, Ultimate Reality, Universal Consciousness, the Creative Force, the Divine Will, or, if you don’t shy away from a loaded term, God. In the above quote ‘Truth’ is shorthand for recognizing, surrendering to, and serving THAT – or else getting consumed by its antithesis. Similar to the widening disparity in wealth a disparity between the conscious and the unconscious, between the servitors of Truth and the servitors of the Abyss(another word for Hell) divides humanity. In the long run most of the middle ground will get consumed by either one side or the other. Staying ‘neutral’ equals complicity with Evil. Choosing to stay ignorant of the forces at play equals fostering Evil. Following rules without ethical discernment equals fighting for Evil. Sounds epic? Wait, there is more.
When you ask people who have quit the System – meaning, they fell out of the shared reality of mainstream society – how their dropping-out happened they tell you the story about one distinct moment in their life when it dawned on them that they have lived a lie. Usually the catalyst for that first step in ‘awakening’, as some describe it, was the dissonance between the very tools by which the false reality was created, the media, and the undeniable truth which they themselves experienced. The eye-opening moment felt like a revelation, shocking, overwhelming, stunning, frightening… and liberating. Suddenly so many question marks disappear; suddenly you realize that consensus reality is just one grand illusion; suddenly the world starts to make sense. It is obvious now, the emperor has no clothes on. You cannot make it unseen. This is what crises can do for you: You go through tremendous pain and suffering that may feel like dying, and you come out, newborn, on the other end of it, grateful for the experience you got to live through. You hear such people speak thanks to 9/11, you hear them praise the Corona plandemic, and you hear Aurovilians acknowledging that the Takeover is a huge wake-up call, a chance for transforming our minds and habits and for transcending our condition.
Did you know another word for ‘revelation’ is ‘apocalypse’? Yes, indeed. apocalyptic times are historical moments which reveal the truth about something existential. An old worldview – along with the world it created – collapses, a new world becomes possible. Which way humankind will go depends on the choices we make collectively; whether it’s Truth or the Abyss. The pathways that lead to one or the other outcome may look quite similar; in fact, the line between the two is as thin and as sharp as a razor blade, almost invisible. This is no coincidence. For it lies in the interest of the Antagonist to stage himself as the Real McCoy: to install tyranny under the guise of freedom, to establish fascism while pretending to be anti-fascist, to realize Asuraville waving the banner of Auroville, or to open the gates of Hell for all the misguided believers who anticipate Heaven. The latter may perhaps serve as a metaphor for the choice between a world of suffering and a world of complete consciousness. Sri Aurobindo remarks,
“At every moment of the spiritual life until one has got fully into the higher light, one has to be on one’s guard and be able to distinguish spiritual truth from pseudo-spiritual imitations of it or substitutes for it set up by the mind and the vital desire. The power to distinguish between truths of the Divine and the lies of the Asura is a cardinal necessity for yoga.” – Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga, Volume I, Section 4; all following quotes from Section 6.
The word Asura mentioned throughout this article series is used in the sense of an antagonistic or evil principle which works against the movement towards ultimate Truth. In religious traditions of Indic origin it stands for a class of beings envisioned as chaos-creating demons, evil spirits and adversaries of the gods. According to the Indian sage Sri Aurobindo who has worked intensely on the problem of Evil, “These Asuras … resemble the devils of the Christian tradition and oppose the divine intention and the evolutionary purpose in the human being.”
When Asuric forces take over a human body or get born in human form, “the Asura has no soul, no psychic being which has to evolve to a higher state; he has only an ego and usually a very powerful ego; he has a mind, sometimes even a highly intellectualised mind; but the basis of his thinking and feeling is vital and not mental, at the service of his desire and not of truth.” An Asura’s desire is insatiable and therefore he or she effectively seeks “to rule the world”. For that purpose he or she appears in “forms often false and always incarnating falsehood, sometimes pseudo-divine.”
“Yes, some kinds of Asuras are very religious, very fanatical about their religion, very strict about rules of ethical conduct. Others of course are just the opposite. There are others who use spiritual ideas without believing in them to give them a perverted twist and delude the sadhak [spiritual seeker].”
The problem of Evil haunts our species since forever, so every culture sought to find its origins, explain its workings, and accomplish its abolishment. Myths, fairy tales, paintings, sculptures, novels, poems and plays allegorize it, psychological, sociological and historical literatures rationalize it, modern cinema and crime fiction normalize it. But none of all these, today, does much to help discern and eliminate it. Quite frankly, modern science and culture add to the confusion and so become part of the conglomerate of dark forces our individual and collective lives have converged into over the Millennia.
Although human conscience can discover immoral actions quite easily, Evil has become a matter of extensive myth-making in the hands of theologians of organized religions. By their self-proclaimed two-fold authority, both as law-making rulers, and as experts on all things divine and anti-divine, they were able to turn a simple matter into a complex subject which ordinary people couldn’t and shouldn’t understand. The secularizing effect of the Enlightenment only added to widespread ignorance because it allowed for a plethora of definitions, concepts, even philosophies, of Evil to arise, including the view that it doesn’t exist – which, most remarkably, both materialist scientists and spiritualist New-Age gurus agree upon.
Evil takes many human forms, for instance the cowardly order-follower, the mindless bureaucrat, the selfish opportunist, the ignorant denier, the bloodthirsty murderer, or the type we are exploring in this article, the malicious deceiver.
Alongside the above-mentioned Asura, the Anti-Christ figure described in the New Testament constitutes another powerful allegory for the Deceiver. Christ stands for the path of true Morality and Self-realization, the Anti-Christ represents its immoral counterpart. After having denounced the scribes and Pharisees who have usurped the word of God, Jesus predicts the end of their corrupt rule. When the disciples want to know how one could recognize the impending end, he answers,
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet… Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24, KJB)
So the Anti-Christ is someone who takes the place of Christ while opposing Christ’s teachings. He is an antagonistic deceiver whose entrapments those on a truly Christian Path will recognize and avoid even as this implies sacrifice, while those who have preferences other than Truth will fall for the deception. In the name of a false morality they will hate, denounce, persecute or even kill the sincere disciples of the Path. But soon enough the Antagonist reveals his actual nature, and those who maintain ties with him forsake the Kingdom of Heaven.
Once again, we are not talking religion here. I am not a religious believer. Let’s take the New Testament, the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad Gita or Sri Aurobindo’s writings as culturally-coloured deep-spiritual descriptions of identical fundamental insights. We are also, at the same time, looking at archetypal workings of the psyche. Ancient religious scriptures reveal age-old knowledge on the human condition which modern science only begins to verify. To reject this knowledge indiscriminately from an atheist, anti-religious, materialist point of view marks the denier, himself, as a victim of the Deceiver.
Evil’s disappearance from public awareness
The Anti-Christ is a biblical figure representing the forces of Evil in their most sneaky manifestation, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing harvesting the lambs. As such he was an avatar of Satan, the Lord of Hell, you could say. People were familiar with the Anti-Christ concept until the late 18th century when the Enlightenment philosophy and the revolutionary movements began to secularize European societies. Until then numerous political and religious figures such as the Roman Emperor, the Pope, the antipopes, or the Protestant reformists have been accused of being the Wicked One. The inflationary use of the term made a laughing stock of him. Both clerics and laymen progressively dropped their guards against Evil incarnate, and eventually the Anti-Christ became a mythological figure, of no significance to anything tangible at all.
This was, in a sense, a big step forward in understanding the nature of Evil, because it eliminated its externalisation. But throwing out the baby with the bath water did not serve humanity well. No longer “a thing”, evil forces, firmly anchored in the human unconsious, continued to undermine the fabric of Creation with increasing efficacy, and modern secular culture with its ultra-greedy hardcore-materialist never-enough worldview drove humanity at top speed to the edge of a cliff. The Anti-Christ in today’s terms would no longer act as one powerful individual – though Evil in the form of malign egophrenia or sociopathy sure has a tight grip on those in “authority”, and through them, on their order-followers. It manifests in collectives. While Evil, through dispersion, all but disappeared from public awareness and discourse in Christianity-based societies, other cultures maintained a clearer understanding of what was going on here. They looked at the worldview and the culture of Western civilization and identified those, in totality, with their own brand of the Antagonist.
“Europe is a cultural statement of Yurugu, the male being, arrogant and immature, who caused his own incompleteness, and so is locked into a perpetually unfulfilled search for the female twin-soul that would make him whole, the part of himself he has denied.” (p561)
writes Dona Richards in her book “Yurugu. An African-centered critique of European cultural thought and behavior”. She goes on to explain how Europeans use spiritual terms such as ‘Harmony’ and ‘Order’ to express perversions of those concepts.
“Rational and harmonious order … represent two radically different modalities of being. […] The struggle to control can never lead to harmony – the essence of spiritual well-being. Rational ordering is predicated on the assumption of conflict and opposition and, in European intensity, becomes a sublimated form of violence. Rational order can never be more than a creation of human beings in partial recognition of who they are; that is, in partial recognition of their cosmic significance. […] If they limit themselves to this order, which they have created, they and their world become distorted. (p562)
Native American academic Jack Forbes names Western culture as “the central problem of human life today.” He calls Western civilization a “culture of Evil.” Native American philosophy, in comparison, acknowledges the right of every being to life and self-determination. Apart from meeting basic needs, Native Americans therefore avoided initiating unnecessary suffering and harm to humans, plants and animals alike, Forbes says, and they empathized with those who suffered. In other words, they lived by Natural Law. He also notes that, “Lying is also almost always a factor in wétiko behavior, and in fact may represent a key strand in the entire epidemiology of wétikoism.”But “How to live in this life? is the real question we all face. All other subjects are insignificant when compared with this one,” Forbes proclaims.
“How do people who follow that path behave? How do they behave towards other humans? How do they behave towards the earth? How do they behave towards other living creatures? Are they doing evil? Are they free men and women who will stand up to evil? Or are they passive foot-soldiers trained to surrender their minds and hearts to their masters?” – Jack Forbes: Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wétiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism (2008)
Paul Levy who in his works explores the problem of Evil named it, in psychological terms, Malign Egophrenia (ME), but later also used the Cree Native-American demon Wetiko to explain it.
“Whichever name we use, we are in the midst of a collective psychosis of titanic proportions, and one of its most stunning features is that very few people are even talking about it. Does that seem as crazy to you as it does to me? Our madness has weirdly become normalized, to the point where we don’t even notice it.” – Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko. Breaking the Curse of Evil, 2013
In a previous article I highlighted that the Good still does exist. One must add, so does Evil, necessarily, like Sri Aurobindo or Carl Jung pointed out. Jesus himself says: “If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin.” (John 15:22, KJB)
Once Christ is established in our psyche, Jung writes in Aion, “the coming of the anti-Christ is not just a prophetic prediction – It is an inexorable psychological law.” He is „an imitating spirit of evil who follows in Christ’s footsteps like a shadow following the body.“
“Every intensified differentiation of the Christ-image brings about a corresponding accentuation of its unconscious complement, thereby increasing the tension between above and below.” – C. G. Jung, Aion: Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self
The disciples of Truth need to realize two understandings. First of all, Evil, although it manifests in impressing phenomena and dwells in people’s minds, is not itself a separate thing nor is it a person you can kill. It is none of God’s creatures. Go(o)d doesn’t create Evil; the ultimate Truth didn’t create the lie; Divine Consciousness didn’t create the unconscious. Those dark aspects are shadows arising from the absence of THAT. God, or the Universe, if you will, provided all beings with freedom, and established the Laws of cause and effect which dish out the consequences of our free-will decisions. Satan is the son of God, just like the Christ, but the Wicked One decided to disregard the Law and so became the “fallen angel.” Evil, according to this allegory, is never happening by an act of Go(o)d, but comes into existence by a free-will decision, or a negligent falling into unconsiousness.
“Evil is not a natural thing, it is rather the name given to the privation of good. Thus there can be good without evil, but there cannot be evil without good, nor can there be evil where there is no good.” – Augustinus, Dialogus quaestionum, quaest XVI
So the simple truth is,
There is an active and a passive form of Evil. With your freedom to decide you can consciously choose to defy Good – which usually makes you an Asura or Anti-Christ – or you can fall unconscious of the Law and become a disciple of the Anti-Christ.
The second thing to be understood by the Truth seeker is, in the psyche like in physics, each force meets an equal counter-force when it comes to head-on confrontation. Neither attacking nor ignoring or denying the power of Evil will do anything to overcome the Antagonist but will only provide him with similar counter-strength – because both movements are basically the same force, directed against itself. Once understood, the age-old dualism Good vs. Evil dissolves. We may embrace and transcend Evil in a spiritual Jiu-Jitsu which picks up the Antagonist’s force and uses it in service to one’s own aspirations towards Truth. “The soul is never lost, there is no eternal hell,” writes Nolini Kanta Gupta, one of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples. “But man, the human soul, has to go through hell, that is to say, through trials and tribulations and ordeals in order to reach heaven.”
“Evil is evil, no doubt; it is not divine and it is not an illusion. It isa real blot on the fair face of creation. Its existence cannot be justified in the sense that it is the right thing and has to be welcomed and maintained, since it forms part of the universal symphony. Not even in the sense that it is a test and a trial set by the Divine for the righteous to prove their merit.” – Nolini Kanta Gupta, The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo
Evil is also not the flipside to Good but the shadow which results from the absence of the Light, the illusion that expands in the absence of Truth. Evil is a choice which can be undone by choosing Truth. It is that simple. This is the task before anyone and everyone “whoaspire to a higher and truer life,” be they spiritual seekers or the ordinary citizen discontent with the coldness, corruption, chaos and coercion all around. The first step towards eradicating Evil should be obvious: Stop lying. Stop lying to others, even with good intentions, but most of all,
To choose Good over Evil is not at all complicated; it becomes only complicated when one considers the sacrifice that might come with the decision. A truthful life remains Utopian only for so long as one is waiting for others to join in. And Truth stays a Fata Morgana only until one is willing to admit that, for some reason or another – usually lazyness, selfishness, or cowardice – one has let oneself get fooled by the fake reality of “authorites” of all kinds.
“Before dying, falsehood rises in full swing. Still people understand only the lesson of catastrophe. Will it have to come before they open their eyes to the Truth? I ask an effort from all so that it has not to be. It is only the Truth that can save us, truth in words, truth in action, truth in will, truth in feelings. It is a choice between serving the Truth or being destroyed.” – The Mother
Throughout parts 3 and 4 of this articles series there has been a lot of talk about “us” and “them”, moral and immoral, Good and Evil, the Takeover gang and the residents. These dualistic phrasings do, of course, not represent the oneness aspect of (human) existence, but the diversity of its expressions. Discerning the fundamental differences in views and ethical positions is merely a necessary step in the process towards right action. They do not, by any means, establish a difference in value of one group of people versus another. A perpetrator is no less a human being than her victim. We are one, and that got to show in how we treat each other; but it doesn’t mean we become blind to destructiveness. Pain and suffering are real, and so is the Evil who benefits from it. As we have seen many times In history evil has no boundaries. Good does not always win. For it to prevail it takes our active pursuit of it. Understanding Natural Law is one fundamental faculty to start from, but that’s by far not sufficient. While the knowledge of objective Morality is indispensable the pursuit of Goodness also requires other elements such as the voice of conscience, the cultivation of empathy, the capacity to forgive and reconciliate, general goodwill, or the belief in higher planes of consciousness that guide us – which is why Natural Law rarely comes as stand-alone philosophy but is usually packaged in broader world views such as the teachings of the Christ, the Buddha, Rudolf Steiner, or Sri Aurobindo. The absence of its central tenets (the bare minimum of which I have discussed in the first article) proves the evilness of philosophies, ideologies, religions, persons and societies which deny the real nature of That-which-is:
[Part 3 of a 4-part article series on Auroville & Natural Law]
… In their dreams, though, the first settlers imagined the future city of 50.000 as designed by Mother’s architect, Roger Anger: a circular town in the shape of a galaxy, with huge kilometers-long structures, up to sixty meters high, spiralling out from the Matrimandir, the spiritual center, to the periphery, where a greenbelt consisting of forests, parks and farms would surround the actual settlement. Roger Anger who would have liked to become a better LeCorbusier designed his Auroville draft with no respect to the actual ground realities such as pre-existing settlements, topography or local culture. In Mother’s mind the plan had to reflect an ideal shape that, as with all her teachings, would have to be adapted to new realizations as those unfolded over time…
Early-on, though, and despite the Mother’s warnings her teachings – and, most importantly, the Galaxy plan – ossified into a religious matter with a small portion of the residents. Time and again attempts have been made towards nailing down Roger Anger’s Galaxy once and for all. A so-called Masterplan has been drawn (and re-drawn), presented for residents’ ratification (and questioned), proposed for application with the UNESCO as World Heritage Site (yet not submitted), and projects with the goal of building the so-called Lines of Force, vast mega-structures representing galactic spiral arms, have been initiated (and stopped). Fifty-three years came and went; the township grew slowly but steadily to 3300 residents from sixty countries. Trodden paths, alternating between dusty and muddy conditions, become plastered roads, concrete and rammed-earth structures replaced the simple organic dwellings of the early days. Tropical dry evergreen forests overgrew the once barren plateau and cooled it down significantly. Sunburnt scantly-clad youthful pioneers became “old Aurovilians” who got crowded out by middle-aged middle-class newcomers indulging in uplevel comforts. Our common dream shattered into numerous interest groups, solidarity-based sharing-economy gave way to book-money-powered shopping, and consensus decision-making has been given up for sporadic majority voting while most of the decisions are taken by a de-facto government of committees, the so-called working groups.
In effect, the Natural-Law-compatible Integral Yoga philosophy, for most part, increasingly became seen as describing a Utopian goal to be achieved somewhen in the distant future, among the post-human supermen Sri Aurobindo had envisioned. Mother’s dream still carries some weight today but it has come under severe pressure on the one hand from the left-brainy materialist city builders whose main concerns are money and power issues, and on the other hand from the right-brainy New Age head-in-the-clouds self-improvers who couldn’t care less about the economy so long as they may dwell in spiritual experiences. In this situation, in the township’s fifty-fourth year, India’s central government sent their demolition crew: a new Secretary to the Auroville Foundation and newly-appointed members to the “Governing Board”, one of the three interdependent constitutive bodies of the Foundation. Their mission: Unknown. Their purported goal: To build The City At The Service Of Truth. And henceforth unfolded the coup against Auroville’s right to self-determination which we, the residents, refer to as “The Takeover”.
During the period after Mother’s passing (1973) relationships grew tense between the few hundred Aurovilian pioneers on the barren plateau and the Sri Aurobindo Society in the city of Pondicherry who legally owned Auroville’s lands and buildings. Those interested in the story may read a pamphlet titled “Genesis of the Auroville Foundation Act”. You will find stunning similarity between the SAS’s attempt to keep the emerging township under their thumb and today’s Takeover through the Auroville Foundation. SAS made ridiculous claims which led the whole project into absurdity such as, Auroville were a religious body, despite the Mother’s unambiguous statements to the opposite.
In 1982 the Supreme Court of India transferred the governance of Auroville from the Sri Aurobindo Society to the Government of India (GoI). It did not resolve the conflict, though, and so GoI, in 1988, introduced the Auroville Foundation Act, to provide the framework for Auroville’s development according to the Charter given by the Mother.
In the introduction to the AV Foundation Bill it says:
“As far as the day-to-day activities are concerned, they will be looked after by the residents through appropriate autonomous arrangements, which will include Residents’ Assembly and its Working Committee. The idea underlying this arrangement is that the residents of Auroville should have autonomy so that activities of Auroville can grow under an atmosphere conducive to harmonious growth.”
We obviously have a problem here: On the one hand, Aurovilians ought to be free from external pressure or rule in order to be able to align themselves with the Divine only; on the other hand, there is no law-free place on Earth. Rather than belonging “to nobody in particular” Auroville has been founded in the jurisdiction of the Republic of India, which mandates the registration of land ownership just like every other country on Earth. The closest Auroville could come to its principles, under such conditions, was its anchoring as some kind of state-approved entity which would allow at least collective land-ownership. Chapter III of the Act again emphasizes the importance for self-determined organization for the purpose of advancing Auroville’s goals as defined by the Mother:
“21(4)b: the residents of Auroville are allowed freedom to grow and develop activities and institutions for the fulfilment of the aspirations and programmes envisaged in the said Charter of Auroville.”
The Foundation was supposed to serve as a sandbox within which the residents were sheltered from all the things that come along with the old ways, such as taxation, policing, governing, wage slavery etc. The problem, though, with the obligation to register collectively-owned land under either a trust, a society or a foundation is that these legal entities have to have a governing body, and that this body is endowed with rights and duties determined by law. From there arises a conflict between the duties of the governing body – following man-made laws – and the residents’ freedom from all external rules, to follow a higher Law. It is in this space of opposing requirements that the forces antagonizing Natural Law step in, to seed confusion instead of Truth, randomness instead of Discipline, mistrust instead of harmony, and selfishness instead of Goodwill.
A flat-Earth understanding of writings
The inversion of terms and the false reinterpretation of principles is a typical sign of the decadent stages of a civilization. I have written to this phenomenon a few times already, using the term Dictionary of Falsehoods (see e.g. The Negro Debate All Over Again) Many residents’ own contribution to the undermining of Auroville’s goals, as described in part 1 of this article series, comes about through this channel: by having an erroneous understanding of what is at the core of the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s teachings, twisted by intellectual blindness or ideological biases, such as hidden religious or materialistic assumptions. These express in literal application of the relevant texts, and the interpreters often neglect the fact that the teachings are not Truth as such; nor do they represent Truth – they are pointers to that-which-is.
Readers who still ask themselves which news media can be trusted to report “the truth” might wonder what I mean by the above sentence. In essence, Truth, in Aurobindan context, is that-which-is – Reality; not yours or mine, THE Reality. Yes, there is such a thing, but one cannot reduce it to words; to its overwhelming part it is not even physical. Words can point out, though, what to look for and where to look for it. Imagine you are on a walk, and as you walk around aimlessly you get hungry. Where the path in front of you is forking you see a signboard pointing to the right; it says, “Restaurant.” Now, the signboard does not fill your stomach – the food at the restaurant does. So you take the right hand path and walk all the way to the real thing, where the actual food is. Only an idiot would stick with the pointer in the hopes of getting satisfied. And yet the world is full of fools obsessed with words instead of dwelling in Truth. Seeking Truth in spiritual texts is just as fruitless as seeking it in any other kind of media, and a literal interpretation of spiritual sources is akin to taking the map for the territory.
And yet the literal interpretation of bits and pieces from the teachings and from the Act is what the forces behind the Takeover of Auroville currently apply – “a flat-Earth understanding,” as one resident aptly called it, of the writings.
Decision-making in Auroville
Within the Foundation’s framework Auroville’s decision-making rests on three pillars, a) the Governing Board (GB), a group whose members are appointed by India’s central government; its role is to support Auroville in achieving its goals within the legal realities of the country; it may “coordinate activities and services,” “review the basic policies and the programmes,” “secure proper management of the properties,” “prepare a master-plan of Auroville” and “authorise and coordinate fund-raising” “in consultation with the Residents’ Assembly”; b) the International Advisory Council (IAC) which consists of five members nominated by India’s central government; its role is to “advise the Governing Board on any matter relating to the development and management of Auroville”, securing the encouragement of its ideals and the freedom of the residents to fulfill their aspirations according to the Charter; and c) the Residents’ Assembly (RA), the entirety of the adult residents. Most decisions taken require the collaboration of at least two of the three pillars, and the RA needs to get involved almost every time. From this fact, from its general liberties granted by the Foundation Act, and from the tasks the Charter requests of the residents follows that the RA is the single most important part in the decision-making of the town – apart from the Divine will.
Due to the before-mentioned obstacles in place it is no wonder, though, that Auroville today, in its actual organization, could not be much farther removed from Mother’s ideal. With the legal establishment, under Indian law, of the township as the property of a foundation directly attached to India’s central government, a legalistic view of Auroville’s functioning progressively permeated throughout its residency and institutions. An expanding Residents Assembly, growing unable to meet regularly, without face-to-face discussion could not come to consensus any longer and switched to majority voting as a decision-making tool. Few residents received that as helpful and the vast majority withdrew from participation in the plebiscites.
A number of working groups which have been established, and get staffed, by the RA execute the work mandated to them by the RA, such as town planning (TDC), conflict resolution (AV Council), funds and assets management (FAMC), Entry etc.
The more the residents lost interest in direct decision-making, naturally, the working groups began to perceive themselves – and became perceived by many residents – as a quasi-government. As a result, the working groups began to make decisions which were not theirs to make, such as a network of surveillance cameras which has been installed without the residents’ agreement, with nobody signing responsible for it and no information provided on who is watching the footage or how long recordings gets stored. The groups became more bureaucratic and less transparent in their functioning over time, keeping secrets from the residents while asking them – under threat of consequences – for data. Despite numerous attempts at reform, they turned into a tool in the hands of a corrupt few, a nearly-closed circle of cronies and a caste of bureaucrats cycling through the revolving doors of the various groups.
Two examples for how rotten things had become
In late 2019, a would-be newcomer who got cheated royally by an Aurovilian and received due attention by neither the working groups nor the Foundation complained to India’s central government and its police authority. He provided evidence for hundreds of cases of corruption and other wrongdoings. Yet again, no thorough investigation ensued, neither by the government nor from within Auroville. A high-ranking officer of the Foundation accused of being in the know got absolved after what looked like a spurious inquiry.
When Corona hit in March 2020, government orders were passed “down” without any consideration of an Aurovilian way to handle such a crisis. All the numerous health practices adopted from around the world – Ayurvedic, Naturopathic, Chinese, Tibetan, Homeopathic etc – were forgotten overnight and the residents were told by the self-appointed Corona Committee that, while everyone was entitled to have their own opinions, people should keep those to themselves and simply follow the fear-based official prescription.
Far removed from the Mother’s teachings, unaware of our role in the Auroville project, and caught in a severe disequilibrium of power, we, the residents, were easy prey for the government coup that unfolded from December 2nd, 2021 on. Some say – especially those siding with the hostile forces – that we deserved it; that we should simply surrender and let Mother have her will. I disagree. Yes, by disregarding Natural Law as a collective we sort of invited further abuse. But it is not the Mother’s wrath that came upon us; she has never been aggressive. And neither us nor anybody else deserves the violation of their Natural Rights. Under the guise of “manifesting the Mother’s dream for Auroville”, “sweeping out the resisting forces” and “putting an end to corruption” a wrecking crew consisting of one handful of officers and a select few rogue Aurovilians began the dismantling of our system of self-governance.
The Takeover. Tactics from the textbook
On December 2nd, 2022 Auroville’s Youth Centre and adjacent forest plots receive a note from the Town Development Council (TDC) that, within a week, trees and buildings would be cleared along the designated Crown Road, a feature of the Galaxy footprint in the so-called Masterplan. On the following day Youth Centre asks for a stay, pointing out that recent visioning meetings had come up with creative solutions that would result in less damage to forest and buildings.
Nevertheless, bulldozers arrived already on the very next morning. Without work order they start felling trees. Within the hour, hundreds of Aurovilians peacefully block the destruction. The Foundation Office (FO) calls the police. They gather information and leave again – only to return at 1am, after consultations with the FO.
Disproportionate application of force
While the bulldozers proceed with the destruction the police block access to the site, arrest resident teenagers and assault some approaching protesters.
Calling the police against peaceful protesters was in clear violation of Mother’s guidelines for Auroville as town planning is an internal matter which should be decided and handled solely by the residents. The unprovoked use of violence, again, was in square violation of Auroville’s guidelines, as well as unambiguously immoral under Natural Law.
Bribery and ultimatum
After staunch protest notes from a community gathering and Auroville’s international support network, AVI, to the Foundation, the Secretary of the Foundation offers money and relocation support to the caretakers of the concerned plots – provided the protests stopped. The response had to be given within twelve hours. The caretakers declined the money but agreed to collaborate if they could dismantle the buildings themselves.
TDC and Foundation office gave a reply that differed from previously offered agreements.
FO’s spokespersons announce a community meeting exactly at the same time and place the residents announced their own.
Canceled freedom of speech
FO then gave a gag order to Outreach Media, Auroville’s media relations service, and appointed two official spokespersons of their own.
Needless to say that the oppression of differing voices is a deeply immoral act. While the behaviour of the police might have been in their own responsibility the FO violated Natural Law with their gag order and so for the first time unambiguously showed their disregard for Auroville’s principles and the self-determination of its residents.
Divide and conquer
The Residents Assembly asked their Working Committee to organize an emergency decision-making event. Four of the seven WC members, siding with the Foundation, refused the request. In the long run, this results in the duplication of working groups and a division among the residents. A direct attempt at dividing Aurovilians of local and non-local origin is made by the Secretary’s addressing the Tamil residents only in a public speech.
Employment of extra-legal external forces
Meanwhile the bulldozers return to the Youth Centre along with about one hundred hired unknown goons who aggress and harm protesters, women and children among them. More trees and buildings than planned are getting taken down. In the afternoon, the crew moved on to a different plot where events repeated. To add insult to the harm done, the Secretary later thanks the goons publicly during Auroville’s birthday celebration.
Ignoring court orders, laws, decisions and petitions
The National Green Tribunal of India issues a stay order. The work, especially the felling of trees, must be stopped. The destructive works go on nonetheless, up until this day. For justification the TDC refers to older working group decisions made in breach of the Foundation Act.
The Foundation continues to violate the Foundation Act on many instances and across its content; it attempted the restriction of the residents’ freedom of speech and assembly, the right to self-governance, the Residents Assembly’s participation in all matters of administration and self-organization, the constitutive processes of the working groups and so on. The hijacking of Auroville’s institutions usually happens by an order of the Secretary or one of her allies, to hand over keys, accounts, passwords, and equipment; it includes the phrase “issued with the approval of the Competent Authorities” but neither names those authorities nor mentions any legal rules it might rest upon.
The FO and the groups it has taken over completely ignore every request by the residents, to meet and find a way forward together. Communication flows only one way, from the FO to the residents in the form of orders, and from the FO to the media in the form of propaganda which is demonizing the residents. Residents ought to answer to a barrage of demands for data, but critical feedback attracts negative sanctions.
Petitions from supporters of the residents, such as the International Advisory Council (one of the three pillars of Auroville’s self-governance), the Auroville International supporters network, or the more than 50,000 signatories of a petition at change.org consistently get ignored as well.
In an unusual landslide decision of 89% in favour, the Residents Assembly determines that all work must stop until the policies and regulations regarding the infrastructure development of the town have been reviewed. Although the RA’s call is binding the FO doesn’t care; instead, it started the direct Takeover of working groups and other institutions of the RA from the following week on, in early February. All of the relevant orders are violating the Foundation Act, established procedures, Auroville’s guidelines, ethical principles such as the right to self-determination, or general goodwill, and they disrupt the functioning of the town’s self-governance.
The hijacking of Auroville’s institutions
February 8th, 2022 – Outreach Media which had been subjected to a gag order already two months ago, became the first victim in a long series of hijacked institutions and facilities. An order directed the handover of assets. The place was then physically sealed.
March 15th, 2022 – Auroville’s construction firms are sidelined by a contract between the Foundation and an external business “for the execution of Projects related to Making of Auroville City”. Our Water Service gets sidelined by the same business which is now taking over the sludge processing.
April 27th, 2022 – The four members of the Working Committee which sided with the Foundation illegally “dismiss” their three colleagues who stand by the Residents Assembly (the RA decides who can be a member in the WC).
May 7th & 9th, 2022 – Foundation and the Governing Board order the RA to stop all decision-making processes for the time being, until the Register of Residents is updated. The reasoning is legal nonsense (see below, “General intimidation”), the order as such is illegal because it lacks a basis, and it is immoral because it infringes on the right of the residents, to meet and to decide on their actions.
May 10th, 2022 – The RA decided in another landslide vote, with 92% agreement, that the four WC members siding with the Foundation are dismissed. Nevertheless, on May 12th, the four occupy the WC’s meeting room and appoint three more members. So there are effectively two groups calling themselves Working Committee now. The WC of the Residents is able to occupy the room a few days later, but Foundation calls the police on the 18th; they shut down the whole Townhall building. Complaints are filed against the residents’ WC members, for “illeagally taking over the WC office” – sheer mockery!
May 17th, 2022 – The Foundation, claiming “anti-government activities”, demands administrative access to Auroville’s intranet facilities; they claim “anti-government activities.” They provide no further details, nor does anybody specific get accused until now. An administrator hands over the passwords under duress.
May 20th, 2022 – Using the extorted passwords, Foundation takes over the intranet of Auroville, Auronet, and SYSOP, the service in charge of the domain name of Auroville and related email addresses of the working groups, services, units and all Aurovilians and of Auroville web services. These are later misused to restrict or deny active RA supporters access to or free use of the bulletin board, to hijack working groups’ email communications, to unveil details of such communications, and to block emails coming in from, or going out to, RA supporters’ accounts. The names of the new admins and sysops have never been published.
May 27th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks the Funds and Assets Committee of the Residents Assembly (FAMC) by “releasing” the RA-selected members and replacing them with personnel of the Foundation’s choice, one of them even a non-Aurovilian. Needless to say that this was illegal, unlawful, and immoral, all in one. The members of the FAMC of the RA refuse to step down, though, so it became the second working group in duplicate.
June 1st, 2022 – Using the commandeered intranet facilities Foundation hijacks Auroville’s mass bulletin service by locking out the admin with no previous announcement. This means that the lawful working groups can no longer inform the community through that channel. The RA’s institutions replace the lost resources with external services and addresses; Foundation warns that the outsourcing of information could have negative legal repercussions.
June 22th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks Auroville’s archives by another order and replaces part of the personnel.
June 24th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks ACUR, the management of the Townhall, by yet another order.
June 28th, 2022 – Foundation hijacks the Land Board by one more order; FO dismisses two of LB’s members and replaces them, partly by non-Aurovilians.
July 1st, 2022 – Following the takeover of ACUR, several tenants, among them working groups such as Human Resources, Auroville Council or Land Board receive short-notice terminations; they have to vacate the premises within 24 hours. No replacements or support with finding new places are offered to them. Council decides to defy the order and squats its own meeting room.
July 15th, 2022 – The Sri Aurobindo Centres in India, Auroville and the Ashrams in Pondicherry and New Delhi, were informed that the Secretary of the Foundation would now be the funding coordinator for government support to Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birthday celebrations, and the grant payments would be routed through her office. Moreover, the funding would not come in the form of a simple grant but a more complex financial arrangement involving bond schemes.
July 29st, 2022 – After the actual takeover of the Finance and Assets Management (FAMC) on May 27th,, and the rerouting of the celebration funds by the Delhi government, a cold takeover of the Budget Coordination Committee (BCC) takes place. Another office order from the Foundation demands “to immediately stop all BCC disbursement of funds to all projects except maintenance [i.e. basic income] with immediate effect.”
Personal intimidation through abuse of office power
Peaceful protesters of foreign origin witnessing the destruction of Youth Centre have been denounced as “violent” persons partaking in “political” activities to the visa registration authorities (FRRO); they receive visits from FRRO officers.
Residents and workinggroup members who inquire a group of Foundation-instructed road workers breaching the National-Green-Tribunal stay-order get threatened with criminal charges, for “obstructing government works”.
The Secretary sends out letters to foreigner residents that their visas will only get extended after they signed a demand that, among other things, they “abide by the Masterplan of Auroville based on the Galaxy Plan conceived by the Mother”. (60% of Aurovilians are of non-Indian origin.)
A short time later, all residents are called to update the Foundation’s “Register of Residents” that supposedly had been neglected since 2005. At closer inspection, the Foundation has live access to the so-called Master List which is kept up-to-date on a daily basis. The registration form demands, mandatorily, an AADHAAR card number; that card is a unified biometric ID which, for the obvious problems it causes towards personal privacy, has repeatedly been ruled by India’s supreme court as voluntary-use only. Another issue with the Foundation’s registration form is an attached three-pages questionaire; the combination is not permissible. Foundation warns of severe consequences later, though, to people who do not fill the form. Nevertheless, only about half of the residents follows the request, many of them due to fear of consequences only.
Meanwhile, more than half of current visa applicants, through no fault of their own, experience difficulties; the processing of their applications gets delayed significantly, the period of visa validity gets reduced drastically, or they receive no visas at all. Such an amount of arbitrary trouble only occured in the 1970s, during the conflict with the Sri Aurobindo Society.
Judge for yourself
One could extend the list of atrocities perpetrated by the Foundation Office and their commandeered working groups by a number of further events but that wouldn’t add significantly to the picture. (Get the full & up-to-date timeline of events from the website Stand For Auroville Unity, which I used for my article.) The ill will and contempt shown towards Auroville’s residents is so obvious and the contrast to Auroville’s principles is so stark that, in order to judge sincerity and moral correctness of the Foundation Office, it is not necessary to consider the points each side is bringing forward; the methods in and by themselves are abominable and delegitimize any claim to virtue that could perhaps be made. The Takeover collaborateurs compound their foul play with gleeful remarks against those they have violated, and by glorifying their ‘leader’ (Madam Secretary, of course) with quotes from Machiavelli’s cynical book “The Prince”.
In terms of democratic values the balance sheet looks nasty as well: those who constantly violate the law while claiming to defend it apparently couldn’t care less about ethical consideration or morally correct acting. It seems that they think that the ends justify the means – in unambiguous indication of their spiritual poverty.
The individual strikes dealt in the coup were obviously illegal. But whether they were or weren’t is irrelevant to Natural Law. Legality does not establish morality, nor does illegality equal immorality. I cannot help but notice, though, that a trail of lies, theft, violence and suffering closely accompanies the steps undertaken by the Secretary since her taking office in mid-2021. I find that telling, from the perspective both of Aurobindan spirituality and your garden-variety interpretation of Natural Law. How shallow her understanding of Auroville’s principles actually must be would normally not concern anyone else but herself. Since she imposes her view on everyone else, by enforcing quick “development”, her ignorance becomes an issue.
In their blatant immorality the Takeover crew are akin to the petty tyrants currently running the countries of the Western bloc. As we see
the same methods applied as during the Plandemic – hijacking of institutions, misinformation, fear mongering, doling out unprovoked violence, causing division, demonizing dissidents, mirroring and projecting one’s own misdeeds on opponents,
and as the same denial of communication is happening like in other countries such as currently against farmers in the Netherlands,
and as the means and measures taken by the aggressors actually are in direct violation of their own proclaimed principles and harm their own purported goals,
and as the heat is coming from persons who are answerable directly to the central government,
it is not too far-fetched to assume that the Takeover of Auroville, rather than serving the development of the town along Mother’s guidelines, is part of the globalist predator’s agenda: the takeover of national states, land ownership, and natural resources around the world. Whole populations lose their subsistence, get driven off the land, fall into dependency from large corporations, and their communities dissolve. The case of Auroville may serve as a stark warning to all those who still think that governments have the best of their citizens in mind and that they were willing and able to work for a better world. Their interests are fundamentally different from those of their “constituency”, and so they lie to the people, always, everywhere. To protect the lie, to enforce their orders, and to keep themselves in power they use structural and physical violence and the threat thereof. It doesn’t matter whether it’s monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, socialism, theocracy, fascism, democracy, or what-have-you – all governments act immorally by default, all government is tyranny, no matter how comfortable it might feel to the average person.
Video: Mark Passio on government, authority, freedom, and determinedness
And this is why the idea that the human condition had improved over the millennia is an illusion; it only become smarter, and so much so as to make us beg them for more of the stick and less of the carrot. Today, we are standing at the edge of a cliff. One step into the wrong direction will bring unprecedented suffering on a global scale.
It is government which orchestrates the drive towards Hell, but make no mistake, it was the majority of the population that allowed for it to happen: the corruption of some, and the ignorance, the laziness and the lack of courage of almost everyone else. It was order-following that brought us here. Auroville has been founded to experiment with positive ways, based on the capacity of free individuals to discern truth from untruth, and to voluntarily collaborate for the realization of the fact that all men are basically one. To establish any kind of governance that forces its rule on the residents by external means can only result in total failure of the township’s objectives. To do so under the guise of fostering those objectives is duplicitious, if not malicious, because it leeches people’s creative energy for an evil goal while destroying their confidence in the Good.
And, as far as the residents are concerned, to help the putschists, actively or by surrendering to their orders, is equally despicable. It’s not what you are here for, dear Aurovilians!
The name Auroville deserves for as long as it rests in the claws of government and its herd of cowards is Asuraville, the city at the service of Evil, because it has become the anti-thesis of what it ought to embody.
New Age fallacies
And so it is of high importance that Aurovilians and the world’s population alike understand the significance of events like the Takeover, no matter under which guise the strikes take place: in response to a “financial crisis”, a “pandemic”, an “invasion”, or to facilitate the “development” of towns into “smart cities”. The governments’ “measures” happen always against our personal and collective interest as they do not keep harm from us (which is a lie), they inflict harm (which is violence). We have every right to resist.
But due to a misguided understanding of scriptures, and supported by erroneous New-Age “wisdom”, many believe that the utmost we may do about events such as Auroville’s Takeover is to send protest notes. From their view, to get hit by violent crime invites the question what you have done to attract it; to point out wrongdoing is called “projecting”, and to distance oneself from the perpetrators is perceived as a form of divisiveness. To involve courts will be seen as illegitimate aggression. When you occupy your place despite orders not to, you are coming dangerously close to getting chastised as a violator. Let’s put things straight:
1) A receiver of violence has usually not called for it, and he certainly doesn’t deserve it. To say otherwise is to tell a rape victim she “had it coming.” Inflicting harm on somebody else – taking their property, freedom, health, mate, life, self-determination, or ability to judge – without their consent is always immoral. To speak the truth about what happened is a Right, and it is usually the perpetrators who project their guilt by shaming the victim. There is a clear distinction between the person who is doing harm and the person that is done harm to; to treat them as “equally involved in conflict” feels fundamentally unjust – because it is. Trust that feeling. Well knowing that they have done wrong to another the perpetrators usually avoid clarifying talks at all cost; called out they react verbally aggressive or even physically offensive. In such circumstances, when all other peaceful attempts for rectifying the wrong have failed, forcefully incapacitating them or appealing to a court or a jury for support can help with ending an oppressive situation. Courts generally are advised against both under Natural Law and in Auroville, but if the antagonist is a legal entity rather than a living person I would certainly keep that option. And the forceful response to an immediate threat or to an attack is, of course, not to be equated with violence; it is legitimate self-defense. The application of force might be wise in some cases, rather not advisable in most others, because the damage inflicted invites retaliation and has unwanted implications for years, sometimes centuries to come. Self-defense is definitely legitimate under Natural Law. Listen to your consciousness, and consider non-combative conflict resolution first.
2) Living in abidance by Natural law opens up potentials for a peaceful life. And yet, unless you don’t care about your family, your neighbour, your community, your habitat, or your guiding principles – not to talk about serving Truth – you will without a doubt fight to secure their well-being when they come under attack. Pacifism is a completely different animal; it claims that there is nothing worth fighting for and that you should leave your hands in the pockets while all that has been built up is getting damaged, stolen, or destroyed, and your loved ones are getting driven out, enslaved, raped, tortured, or murdered.
3) And for whom exactly did pacifism ever work? Has it worked for the Caribbean tribes who welcomed Columbus with a feast before they got enslaved? Has it worked for New England’s Indians when they helped the first colonists survive before those turned on them? What about Appeasement politics in the 1930s – it stopped the War? Has petitioning ended Pol Pot’s genocide against the Kampuchean “intellectuals”? Pacifism’s effectiveness, when it comes to preventing the worst, horribly fails to meet expectations.
Tyrannical regimes often times don’t start with genocide, but rather with simple immoral or illegal acts guised in rationalistic, moralistic or legalistic shrouds. A wrong sense of staying peaceful and civilized in the face of injustice only helps the perpetrators drive their inhumane agenda to its bitter ending. To prevent the worst one has to note the similarities early-on.
Considering the havoc wreaked by the plandemic measures one cannot seriously sustain doubts that most of the world’s governments would absolutely sacrifice millions of their citizens in pursuit of accumulating and perpetuating power. So I have to ask the Aurovilians who would still stay silent about the wrongness of the Takeover, Do you really think that they, the Takers, will stop the dismantling of Auroville’s self-governance before you get affected? Do you think they would not expel one thousand or more residents, and use the rest of us as walk-ons pretending to be happy inhabitants of a spiritual tourist trap? Do you think they will stop before something really terrible happens that will remain as a dirty stain on Auroville’s Karma for centuries to come?
I have to ask those who would collaborate, even, with the Takers whether you actually think that any good can come from the way you treat others? Which kind of Auroville could possibly emerge from coerced collaboration when the very first point of the charter emphasized willing servitude?
Yes, Karma will restore balance eventually, by extinguishing immoral societies – it’s called the Sodom & Gomorrah solution – but for you to collaborate, or to just stand by, means you are becoming a willing servitor of the Asuric forces. Deny it all you want; Karmic Law won’t consider excuses, only sincere confessions and redemption.
As pointed out already, Auroville’s state of affairs has parallels in the global context, which hardly surprises anyone who lived their lives somewhen during the last 3000 years and paid attention. We’ll explore this thread of understanding in the upcoming fourth article of the Auroville & Natural Law series, Truth or the Abyss.
“No system indeed by its own force can bring about the change that humanity really needs; for that can only come by its growth into the firmly realised possibilities of its own higher nature, and this growth depends on an inner and not an outer change. But outer changes may at least prepare favourable conditions for that more real amelioration, — or on the contrary they may lead to such conditions that the sword of Kalki can alone purify the earth from the burden of an obstinately Asuric humanity. The choice lies with the race itself; for as it sows, so shall it reap the fruit of its Karma.” – Sri Aurobindo: War and Self-Determination
[title image: The Princess and the Goblin (1920), Jessie Willcox Smith (1863-1935)]
Thank you so much for taking the time to read through the article on “Living in Sin.” I appreciate that someone with so much more lived experience – someone perhaps with so much more mulled over philosophy – is taking a look at these thoughts, which certainly didn’t cross your path for the first time, and, who knows, may have already been discarded for good reason. That you nevertheless let yourself be touched by them, that touches me in turn.
Alone, the question remains, how to act properly in view of the continuously piling up of troubles in our time, and whether one can do anything at all. There are many who desperately call out to you, “Do something!?” In their inability to feel solid ground under their feet, they become part of a wave of hysteria so impressively depicted by Carlos Schwabe in 1907. But even a superficial examination raises a whole series of questions. First of all, who is the addressee? Any random person who did not flee out of reach quickly enough? The authorities? The government? Pressure groups? Professional revolutionaries? God? To what extent is it in the power of the addressee to do something?
Second, what is wanted by the addressee? That he does something, whether it is useful or not? Is there an obligation to act at all, or a justification for intervening?
Thirdly, who is the one who is calling out “Do something!?” To what extent can they demand that others act? Why doesn’t s/he simply act himself/herself?
All this is encoded in the two signs that follow the “Do something” – the exclamation mark and the question mark. The one who utters this call is not sure of himself, does not know what they want, does not ascribe to themselves any efficacy. For their fear they look for redemption in the outside.
Action, which can also be a conscious non-action – here we now come to my own position, which I share with Hermann Hesse, Jiddu Krishnamurti and the other philosophers mentioned – is the responsibility of each individual. My writing is addressed to these “Do something!?” shouters; also to the shouter in us, the helpless child who turns to its parents, who have always pulled the hot potatoes out of the fire for us. The responsibility for our being and acting, that is, the formulation of a response to the challenges of life, cannot be ceded to superior powers or delegated to third parties. It is inalienably ours, like the freedom of choice given to us from birth. We may be unconscious of it, we may reject it, we may have our reasons why we do not (or not completely and always) perceive it, but this does not relieve us of it and does not protect us from consequences. The consequences for our missteps are regulated by a higher power, superior to the human will, which the western culture assigns to the law of cause and effect. In the East, this law is called “karma” – the natural law, in any case, according to which collective immorality ends in decay, suffering, injustice and bondage, while morally right actions lead to general prosperity, justice and freedom in a society. Natural Law is incontrovertible. It requires no court of law to which we must answer, but only our own conscience, which provides the basis for our free decision to act morally or immorally. We act; the consequences are taken care of. “The details are regulated by a law,” as it was and is so beautifully called in various constitutions.
So far, so good. But what about fear? After all, it is justified, if one considers the manifold forms of violence that constantly sweep over us, with and without provocation: the violence of the state, which crushes refusal to obey with police violence; the structural violence, which commands conformity from all those who want to remain integrated in social structures and profit from them; and the violence of the mob, of the masses, which meets dissenters with disgust, malice, or sometimes even with beatings. It is only too understandable that people decide to howl with the wolves, or at least keep their heads down and strike moderate tones.
Fear as such is, in my view, not a sin but a warning signal: “Attention, it is advisable to exercise caution here.” Sin would be to infer from the presence of fear the absence of freedom of choice. The supposed impossibility of taking the right path in the face of a threat is not so much due to the nature of the path; it is rocky, steep and dangerous, to be sure. Often what it demands of us is beyond our strength here and now. But it is always open to us, teasing us, appealing to us with its obvious goodness. That is why those who do not close their ears to his call thrown back to us, “Do something!?” will always feel called to try to walk it at their own pace. Without the opportunity for right action, there would be no sin. In the absence of his invitation to right action, there would be no need for justifications, for excuses, for having yielded to the threats and lures of the generally acceptable and for having found no courage.
In spite of my pointed argumentation, nobody has to justify himself before me for his decisions. This is not what is meant by “responsibility.” The yardstick for the true, the beautiful, and the good is always only one’s own conscience. Besides, I am also not always consistently strong; I often make mistakes. I can only try every day anew to act the right way, and if I get on the wrong way, to “turn back”, as suggested in a prominent place. This can only be done by admitting doubt and acknowledging nescience – taking due care that this does not turn into a permanent state of denial or ignorance.
Of course, I do not condemn anyone for their differing understanding from my view. If someone wants to protect himself against harm, he is welcome to do so. What I condemn and sanction are attempts at encroachment: the claim that I, or another, or even all of us together, are responsible for protecting the one who wants to protect himself, and that we are morally obliged to do so. This desire is contrary to Natural Law, is opposed to freedom and personal responsibility, therefore it is fundamentally unethical. Moral behavior presupposes ethical thinking, thus requires a free and conscious decision for Right Action. Those who follow orders because those orders bear the stamp of authority do not care about the right or wrong of their actions; and those who force others to follow rules try to deprive people of their freedom, personal responsibility and thus also of their morality.
That the overwhelming majority of people do not feel addressed by such statements, to put it mildly, let alone recognize in them any form of help, is almost self-evident. Without the long-lasting state of all-encompassing injustice, which is generally taken for granted and therefore no longer perceived as harmful, there would be no need for passionate advocacy for its overcoming. Precisely because the considerations articulated by Hesse, Steiner, Krishnamurti, Drewermann, Illich and other thinkers throw sand into the gears of mass-produced thinking, they should be given space, indeed they must be voiced. Now that the time has come for them to stand the test and be proven true, I think it would be a wrong sign to speak meekly, doubtfully, or even ruefully about them. Just yesterday I read in Charles Eisenstein, “Be vigorous in rejecting any answer which your soul knows to be untrue, however flattering it may be to your righteousness.”
You cannot change the minds of those who have fallen into cognitive dissonance – self-proclaimed anti-fascists, political punks, ethics committees, clergy, vaccinating doctors, TV philosophers – but you can strengthen the backs of those who listen to you with respect by signaling that what is true and right remains true and right even if one faces inconvenience for it. Quite apart from the terrible feeling of having to live a lie otherwise, we all know where it leads when too many people hold their tongue for too long and play along for the sake of peace and quiet.
Now, as far as right action in Corona times is concerned, I cannot and will not give any concrete guidance, because it would be presumptuous to suppose that I understand the totality of all that is of importance here and now in your situation. However, it is advisable to consider principles of Natural Law. For the fact that we have brought it to this point, this crisis of consciousness that we are experiencing both collectively and individually, is, in my view, undoubtedly due to the complete abandonment of our condition. Perhaps hardship can teach us how to think, feel and act properly; how to fish instead of having the pizza cab deliver the fish sticks, lovelessly glued together from scraps, free to our door.
One thing I have known without any doubt since I can think: What is wrong fundamentally, everywhere and at all times, and immoral and destructive in the long term, is compulsion and blind obedience. It may happen that that which is done of free will, or that which is omitted, coincides with that which is commanded. One does not need to be ashamed for this, if what commanded you was wisdom, not human decree. When you do what is demanded of you, it shall be done on the basis of a free decision, consciously made for – and trusting in – the truthful, the beautiful, the good. That’s what I wish for you, that’s what I wish for all of us.
Sitting on the worn out sinner’s bench with the donkey’s cap,
One of my countless sins of omission until recently consisted of a maintained disinterest in the question of whether human existence is determined by Natural Laws in a similar way to the material universe. To be precise, I found that the problem of free will vs. determinacy of our expressions of life could not be conclusively solved, and thus it could not be determined which decisions are right or wrong, moral or immoral. I have certainly poached a little in these philosophical meadows, investigated questions such as “What is justice?” and made considerations about the freedom of the individual, most recently in the article “Living in Sin“. In the process, I have very often arrived at the same insights that other thinkers of diverse cultures have gained over the past two and a half thousand years, thanks to my own experiences as well as observations, research, and conclusions. This honors not so much myself as those very mystics and philosophers whose insights into the nature of being, after such a long time under such changed circumstances, continue to prove true today. It speaks further for a regularity, a Natural Law, which determines perpetually, everywhere, unchangeably and inevitably the success or failure of human communities. This law is called “Natural Law” in Western philosophy. The word nature derives from the Latin “natura” (birth); it refers to the derivation of our rights from the characteristics given to man qua birth by Nature or God. Therefore, Natural Law in its validity refers to human nature, the conditio humana.
My lifelong poking around had the disadvantage that it took a long time for conjectures to condense into certainties, but it had the great advantage that the rules of Natural Law could not be dismissed as just another set of arbitrary mental constructs. They can be subjected to tests with conventional tools for verification. The derivations performed by well-known Natural Law thinkers such as Jesus of Nazareth, Thomas Aquinas, Gautama Siddhartha, the philosophers of Enlightenment, Emerson, Thoreau, Steiner, or the American Founding Fathers reveal exciting facets. However, it would go completely beyond the scope of a single article if we wanted to start our discussion with Adam and Eve, so to speak, and examine all ramifications and variants. For our purposes – to restore human self-determination – there is no need for referring to the writings of philosophical authorities. Natural Law, as employed here in the article, is self-evident. It means a principle of cause and effect of human social behavior, intrinsic to the world, which radically proceeds from the freely born individual endowed with reason and conscience. It can not only be applied in everyday life, but is even indispensable for certain purposes. I partly use contemporary texts by thinkers rarely cited in this context to illustrate my points. Such texts exist in encouragingly high numbers.
How few of those who march through the streets protesting against Corona measures have understood that the answer to the slashing of the Constitution by the state should be more Natural Law instead of more democracy, I would rather not know. However, I can say with certainty that the following points have the highest relevance for the lives of all of us (in my opinion, even for the continued existence of that which essentially makes us human).
Hold on, it’s getting exciting.
In the nearly two hundred states of the Earth there are just as many different definitions of what is right and what is wrong and how violations of law are to be sanctioned. This is called the legal system. This multiplicity of different legal norms – think of such extreme examples as the Sharia or the U.S. Constitution – which, moreover, change in content and character over time, often tempts people to fall into moral relativism. Moral relativism is the view that what is right can be determined arbitrarily. Now, of course, there is no denying that both legal and moral ideas – which inform each other to a certain extent – in fact spring from just such arbitrariness. The rules by which we orient our behavior depend in the last instance on our conception of the human being and our place in the world, and this conception differs from culture to culture, from country to country, and from person to person. In this confusing jumble of often incompatible norms, two things have been lost: first, the distinction between law, morality and ethics, and second, the objective difference between right and wrong. The latter goes by the name of “Natural Law” in philosophy, but it has existed and continues to exist under diverse names in all cultures. The best known are probably “Thomism”, “Anthroposophy”, “Cause and effect”, “Spiritual law”, “Karma” and “The Golden Rule”.
What are law, morality and ethics?
(Positive) Law consists of formal rules established by authorities to guide the behavior of individuals and groups in a society with the help of state power. Different societies have different authorities that apply different standards, but what they all have in common is the expectation of unconditional obedience and the sanctioning of violations by state authority. Positive law – constitutions, laws, statutes, ordinances, and court judgments – are, as we shall see, in direct opposition to Natural Law, “a set of non-man-made, binding, and immutable conditions that govern the consequences of the actions of all beings capable of holistic intelligence.” (Mark Passio).
A simple statement that has been enshrined in all cultures since time immemorial and that we call the “Golden Rule.” The violation of a natural right harms the recipient of the violation; it entitles the recipient to self-defense. Violations produce long-term effects in the polity, manifesting themselves as forms of disorder, bondage, and collective suffering. But not only the violation, also the observance of Natural Law has consequences: The polity in the long run gains in cohesion, freedom, justice, and prosperity. The best-known term for this dynamic is “karma” – a concept that is unfortunately often completely misunderstood as a personal balance of sins.
Morality as currently understood by the man on the streets is often, but not necessarily, identical with obeying positive laws. Morality consists in the concrete rules of conduct that apply in a community, that is, about how one should live. If these rules are standardized, one speaks of a code of conduct. Depending on the culture and subculture of the group to which people belong, morality defines their socially acceptable behavior. A pacifist will condemn any use of force against persons, a soldier will see the matter quite differently.
In Natural Law, any action that does not cause harm is moral. Whoever causes harm to others, that is, violates their natural rights, acts immorally.
Always immoral and therefore wrong in Natural Law are lying, theft, destruction of property, burglary, coercion, rape, assault, slavery, imprisonment and murder – acts that deprive their recipient of a right.
Acts of self-defense, on the other hand, are rightful and never constitute violence.
Ethics and morality are often used interchangeably. Moreover, a confusing variety of definitions is in use. Commonly, however, ethics is understood to be a set of mutable values and principles that govern the actions of individuals. In philosophy, ethics is thinking about morality; ethics provides the rationale for morality.
Thus, whoever does not consciously think about morally right behavior acts unconsciously and unethically. A person who does not think ethically cannot act morally; he or she does not exercise his or her rights and is very likely to violate those of their fellow human beings. In their ignorance they may act immorally and unjustly.
What is remarkable about Natural Law is that ethical thinking and moral action always relate harmoniously to each other, because they can be traced back to the same source: the objective knowledge of right and wrong. This knowledge is based on the observation of causes and effects that has guided our species since its existence. Following Natural Law – abiding by the unwritten Laws of Nature – Humans have lived in small egalitarian groups for hundreds of millennia, as appropriate to our species as birds use to live in flocks. Only with the emergence of civilizations – hierarchically organized societies with a law-making authority at the top which cultivate order-following – do law, morality and ethics begin to diverge. The Swiss philosopher Chnopfloch aptly describes the dynamic that results from their divergence:
There is war in this world, a war between morality and ethics. The two words are equated to disguise this – to disguise the fact that the ethics of the individual and the morals of society have diverged and moved far away from each other. For only morality can be manipulated and misused by the controllers for their own purposes, and only through morality can masses of people be controlled. It is up to each and every one of us to decide which side we will fight on, and we must choose a side, because today man has only two choices: to be moral and unethical, or to be ethical and immoral. Do you listen to society and what others tell you, or do you listen to the laws of life, the inner voice that nature has written into your heart with its own hand?” — Chnopfloch: Fachidioten, Gurus und der Krieg [Pundits, gurus and the war. Aug 2021]
How does this dynamic happen?
As already described and deduced in many of my articles, civilizations are cultures that run on a program for controlling the world and reality. All their efforts are directed towards the prevention of undesired events with probability bordering on certainty and to make desired events occur with equal probability. This requires a categorization of phenomena into positive and negative ones, which are then met with standardized actions. Both categorization and standardization are nothing but arbitrary determinations. From the beginning, and to the present day, those determinations are always oriented to the interest of the person or group who makes them. Three facts, immoral in terms of Natural Law, follow from this:
1) The determinations codified in law enforce the ethics of the lawmaker. As they deny the freedom of the “subjects” they are intrinsically sociopathic in nature, i.e., immoral under Natural Law;
2) The actions prescribed by the lawmaker are often – and the prescribed sanctions for non-compliance are always – associated with violence, or the threat thereof, against recipients of orders. Thus, they are always immoral under Natural Law.
3) Following rules and carrying out orders is always immoral because the ethics of the recipient of the order play no role in their implementation. Either the order-follower must violate their ethical understandings, bend their ethics to fit the rules, or omit ethical considerations altogether. This is unethical according to Natural Law and therefore immoral and therefore violates the Law. To put it mildly:
Legal and illegal do not matter at all in terms of Natural Law.
My long-time readers will know that the author of these lines lives in Auroville, a city founded in 1968 in service to the principles of a special form of Natural Law: Integral Yoga. Following the teachings of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo, city founder Mirra Alfassa, known here only as “The Mother,” stipulated that there should be no government, no courts, and no police. No laws should apply, no money should be used internally, and no mind-altering substances should be consumed. Politics, tradition, and conventional morality were to have no influence on the actions of the residents, and gossip was to be avoided. They were to live “a life divine, but no religion” (Mirra Alfassa), aligning their behavior with the highest consciousness available to them and resolving their conflicts through good will. Why? Because all elements negated here influence, corrupt or even prevent people’s free decision for the good. Only a decision made completely freely, taking into account the objective criteria of right and wrong, can be morally right and good. Thus, in his letter to the Roman Christians, Saint Paul states that they were freed from the old, man-made law to freely follow their conscience, according to the message of the Son of God:
But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit. – Paul: Epistle to the Romans, 7:6, New Living Translation.
The objective difference of right and wrong.
And this brings us to the key point, which is the extent to which morality is not relative but objectively determinable. Moral relativism means that any moral view is considered to be equivalent to any other, because they are all basically arbitrarily introduced rules. That this is the case in practice cannot be denied. The multitude of existing moral systems testifies to this. However, this does not at all mean that all moral rules lack a concrete foundation. We find that certain rules – roughly speaking, those compatible with the “Golden Rule” – have been valid in all cultures and at all times. This already speaks for their universal effectiveness in the world of man. It shows that persons who thought ethically have everywhere come to the same observations about human nature and that they knew that every individual action has social consequences. Specifically, it can be observed that communities that obey Natural Law tend to increase freedom, justice, and prosperity; where Natural Laws are consciously or unconsciously disobeyed, mores deteriorate, injustice increases, and the community tends toward unfreedom and even slavery.
Therefore, attentive observers of the human condition at all times and in all places concluded: To take something from others without necessity that belongs to them – property, mates, life, health, security, freedom, truth – is unethical, immoral and wrong. Or, to put it positively, a right is an action that causes no harm to other sentient beings. If you confront people who believe morality is in the eye of the beholder with harmful acts such as rape, slavery, murder, or loss of property, they will concede that such acts are bad, regardless of the cultural background – unless you are talking to psychopaths. So it does matter what the moral rules are.
Evolutionists assume that every characteristic of a living being is passed on from one generation to the next because it offers an evolutionary advantage. Believers of all religions assume that the Creator has wisely endowed man in such a way that he can distinguish right from wrong actions and is free to make use of this knowledge.
Thus, the inherent agency of conscience in all human beings, its purpose and its usefulness in fulfilling that purpose are rather rarely openly disputed. We get called by our nature to listen to our conscience. Moral relativism denies conscience, obedience suppresses it altogether. Both attitudes are categorically wrong, not only because they are immoral, but because they open the door to evil. Totalitarianism requires this ethical poverty.
Why is the unquestionable knowledge of right and wrong necessary?
Following the conscience, which intuitively knows the objective difference between right and wrong, is to the advantage of all of us, because only morally right actions lead to order, peace and justice. Conscience can be drowned out by rational consciousness or emotions. That is why it is important to become rationally aware of the intuitive contents of conscience as well, and it is equally important to cultivate an empathic understanding of other sentient beings’ desire for freedom (i.e., their pursuit of rights). Knowledge of the rules that govern the human condition – in other words, knowledge of Natural Law – are indispensable to the formation and preservation of a polity that serves freedom, peace, happiness, and justice. What is self-evident in engineering, namely that a functioning construct can only be formed on the basis of correctly ascertained facts and understood principles, is also true in sociology: behaviours that ignore or deny objective morality can never result in a positive outcome; society then simply does not “function” but becomes mired in all sorts of suffering. More than that:
The Law of Life isn’t what governs life, it’s what fosters life, and anything that fosters life belongs to the law… A biologist would probably say that what I’m calling the Law of Life is just a collection of evolutionarily stable strategies—the universal set of such strategies, in fact. – Daniel Quinn: The Story of B
Ivan Illich, like many others, was convinced that
There is, in other words, a given human nature, just as much as there is a given physical nature, and a society can only be good insofar as its principles are drawn from insight into this nature. [Illich’s book] “Tools for Conviviality” had its roots in his fear that the society he was writing about not only threatened human nature but was on the verge of abolishing it altogether. – David Cayley: Ivan Illich. An Intellectual Journey
This abolition did not begin with the application of genetic manipulation or chip implants. It results from a long process of erosion of our ability to know ourselves, that is, to live freely within the framework of what is called the Law of God, Natural Law, Dharma, the Law of Life, or Integral Yoga.
We do well, then, to pay as much attention to the knowledge of cause and effect in social affairs, which is rooted in our human nature, as we do to the laws of physics. The law of human life, i.e., the one evolutionarily stable strategy for human action, is Natural Law as practiced by each and every culture ever since the birth of the genus homo – just not by our culture, civilization.
“Oh!”, I hear sarcastic-sounding voices exclaim. “You’ve done a great job of that where you live.” Indeed, the Auroville of the 21st century is a suitable example to prove Natural Law – the law of cause and effect. Precisely because the insights of the “Mother” remain largely misunderstood and unpracticed, precisely because there is widespread ignorance of karmic action among the population, precisely because the majority of us do not “die to law and are no longer captive to its power,” precisely because we trust authority more than our own knowledge and conscience, have police patrolling the streets, call the courts, get paid for our services to others, worship false idols, don’t always take honesty seriously, play politics, let ourselves be intimidated by officials, take mediated information at face value, and confuse rule-following with morality, Auroville is currently a place that is not at the service of Truth, and therefore not exactly the city the world has been waiting for; for it is precisely because we collectively have not listened to our conscience that our polity has long been failing in its purpose. The fact that we think twice about what we say in public and that the official mold neighs at all corners shows our utter terror of the “Divine Anarchy” the Mother wanted to open up for us.
On the importance of freedom
There, this is the real topic we are talking about. Let us call a spade a spade: anarchy – or rather anarchony, the absence of a ruler – or acephaly, the absence of a headman, are what the consistent application of Natural Law amounts to socially. As the exercise of power or force and the obeying of orders or rules are invariably immoral, all government, all statehood, all forms of authority are immoral, unjust, wrong; including democracy. If in a polity free decision according to objective moral facts is inhibited or prevented, even by popular vote, then the people in it are unfree.
It deludes itself about its slavish incapacity for self-responsible action, engaging in hollow debates about constitutional freedoms and postmodern discourses on the equivalence of various definitions of freedom or morality.
In reality, however, you don’t have to write or read long books to explain or understand freedom. It is quite enough to look out over a lush lake, for example. All the beings you see there are free in the true sense of the word. Freedom is the basic regularity of all living nature. And civilization has turned against this very regularity. – Steffen Pichler: The Golden Springtime
The American bio-philosopher George Gorman elaborates on this idea:
Intentionally moving one’s own body, interacting with others, preserving one’s gains and questioning one’s options play essential roles in shaping the experiential processes of everything alive. Like ourselves, other animals and plants are skilled trackers of personal value, since nothing but their own will power is guiding them to live in terms of their personal needs and desires. It’s not automatic … It’s natural that experiencing a life without freedom is abhorrent to the living. Even the simplest bacteria behave in unpredictable ways not wholly determined by identifiable causes, including the molecular processes of their internal chemistry. Because they’re free.– George Gorman: We, the Living vol. 1
And this has consequences for the quality and ending of our lives, as book author Steffen Pichler quite correctly points out. He concludes that in nature – in contrast to the domesticated humans, animals and plants of civilized culture – there is little extended sickliness, because this restricts the freedom of development of the living being.
It is very important not to imagine a natural instance that determines the end of any living being. It is vice versa: The natural system ensures, in a somewhat automatically way, that life ends when it no longer comes along with the state of healthy freedom. In this respect, life is freedom, and if it, freedom, ceases, then life also ends automatically. – Steffen Pichler: The Golden Springtime
In view of such considerations, I have long been asking myself whether we, insofar as we obey the state and the pressure of mainstream views, can actually still be called fully alive, or whether the condition of the majority of our fellow human beings should not be described as a stage of advanced zombification.
Corruptio optimi pessima
And Auroville? What chance does the rest of the world stand if model projects like this township fail to implement Natural Law in everyday life? Well, first of all, one can state with Shakespeare that „Lillies that fester smell far worse then weeds“ (Sonnet 94). The stench of rotten thought emanating from the dominant culture of our day is horrible enough. But the same stench becomes much worse when it emanates from those people or places to which one has looked with admiration: the pop star who has had his parts sung by others; the professor who copied his thesis from the works of others; the priest who abuses his protégés; the environmental protection organization that got paid off by the dirtiest corporations; the peace party that starts a war under cheap pretexts; the rebel who surrenders to a public mania just when her ability to criticize is needed most urgently; and of course the intentional commune that no longer understands its own principles and therefore practices the exact opposite of what they actually intended.
It is extremely painful when noble goals turn into something that causes damage, because it thoroughly destroys the hope for a better world, and it effectively puts the misguidedness of people on display. Ivan Illich, with reference to the canonized church teacher and Natural Law thinker Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), when characterizing such conditions applied the Latin saying corruptio optimi pessima –
The inhabitants of Auroville, more so than ordinary people, have the task of learning to understand their principles, the core of their humanity, anew, to right the abundance of wrongs. The fact that the founding documents of the city still hold undiminished validity, despite the massive undermining by the neoliberal system, can be an advantage in this. The tension between what is and what ought to be, between reality and utopia, creates irritations and pains that eventually reach a breaking point that forces a decision between “Just keep going!” and “Stop the nonsense!” I believe that this breaking point has arrived, locally, nationally and globally.
Social goodness does not manifest all by itself. First of all, you have to know what is good without a doubt, you have to want it with every fiber of your being, you have to consciously decide for it and finally you have to actively implement it. People must and people will put their entire existence on the line for it, because anything else would be a decision in the sense of “Just keep going”, and this would be tantamount to a death sentence for the good in us, perhaps even for the species. We were not created for loneliness, slavery, falsehood and greed. The cries of every bottle-feeding newborn, the rebelliousness of every latchkey child, and the incessant rebellion of the adolescent, about whom even the ancient Sumerians already complained, ought to tell us just as plainly the obvious truth about our inhuman culture as our own discomfort before leaving home in the morning, our stomach churning at encounters with so-called authorities, the sense of meaninglessness in our lives, our addiction to “forgetting,” or the irrationally destructive behavior we exhibit in conflict situations. No one wants to live like this, and yet the overwhelming majority have subordinated themselves to the machine, to the system of the locust. The regularities embedded in Natural Law give all seekers of freedom, justice and brotherhood a stable foundation on which they can build, using the abilities they have been given. Those, however, who believe that they cannot live without authority have their further path clearly marked out for them: As wage slaves, gullible voters, target group members, consumers, taxpayers, cannon fodder and guinea pigs for experimental therapies, they will eke out their lives by the sweat of their brow until the end of their pointless days. And if they are not allowed to die, they will slave away forever.
It is the central question the answer to which shows the profound divide between the proponents of, and the resistance against, the plandemic measures. Who owns a person‘s body? Years before any of us anticipated our getting stripped wholesale of constitutional rights one fellow by the name of Mark Passio already held lectures on Natural Law which unambiguously answered that question. Your body belongs to you and nobody else. Period. In a presentation called The Science of Natural Law he dismantled the notions of “authority”, “legality”, “government”, and “jurisdiction”; he spoke to their role as tools for enslavement and why they are wrong, illegitimate, immoral, and dysfunctional means of pursuing order, peace, and freedom. False understanding of what a Right is keeps people loyal to a constitution which, rather than protecting them from tyranny, holds them hostage to the illusion of the state’s right to exert violence. Asking men and women on the street about their understanding of some core tenets of Natural Law Passio develops what he purports to be their actual, objective meaning, workings, and ramifications.
If you intend to continue resisting to the powers-that-be and remain standing upright this is the kind of knowledge you might want to ingest, and I highly recommend you also watch his eight-hours Natural Law Seminar in New Haven, CT, which explains things in much more detail. It is really worth your time. Among others you will learn what Transhumanism, Eugenics, organised religion, scientism, New Age spirituality, order-following, Democracy, and Fascism are having to do with Satanism.
I am not saying here that this is the most widely accepted description of Natural Law. Various versions have been developed throughout history by many cultures before Passio came along. As someone who through personal experience discovered many of his points to be highly relevant I am saying that he makes a lot of sense and that his words are worth considering. After all, he says that Natural Law is a science, and as a science it should be verifiable in reality.
So here we go with quotes from the presentation:
Natural law refers to a set of universal, non-man-made binding and unchangeable conditions which govern the behavioural consequence of beings with the capacity for holistic intelligence.
While we have always free will to choose which behaviours we will conduct we are not insulated from the moral consequences of our behavioural choices.
Natural law is also known as “Moral law”, “Cosmic law”, “Universal law”, “Spiritual law”, “The law of cause and effect”, “Consequentialism”, “The Golden Rule”, “Karma”, and many other names.
The non-aggression principle is one of the main principles of natural law. This principle means that it is morally wrong to initiate aggression or violence upon other sentient beings. This brings us to another important principle of natural law, the self-defense principle. Individuals always reserve the natural right to use physical force to defend themselves against acts of violence conducted upon them. Self-defense is NOT and should NEVER be considered to be violence. Self-defense against violence is an inherent right of all sentient beings.
Everyone possesses EXACTLY the same natural inherent rights as everyone else, and there are NO exceptions to this rule for individuals in government, police, military, or any other societal institutions. This is what is meant by “equality” under natural law.
Legality does not equate to morality.
All so-called human authority is morally illegitimate because it is not voluntary, and it is based upon coercion and violence, which is itself immoral behaviour.
Governmental authority is an illegitimate man-made construct that does not exist in nature. The belief system that certain people have somehow legitimate authority over others or that some people have more or less inherent rights than others is one of the most fundamental causes of unparalleled suffering and death in our world. Authority is and always has been an untrue, illusory, illegitimate, and immoralclaim which is unfortunately accepted and believed in by most human beings with absolute religious fervor. The delegation of authority to politicians, police and military is inherently morally illegitimate and cannot actually be done in nature, since it is impossible to bestow or delegate a “right” to someone else which no-one possesses as an individual.
Taxation is theft enforced by the threat of coercion and violence.
The only legitimate human interactions are those which are voluntary, meaning they are mutually agreed-upon by all of the involved participants. Man-made laws including those which decree and enact behaviours such as prohibition, taxation, and licensure are not voluntary in any way. They are commands of compliance which are always backed by the threat of violence or actual violent behaviour. Man-made laws are arbitrary decrees of a ruling class calling themselves “government” who are believed to possess a magical “right to rule”. Their subjects, the people living under their so-called jurisdiction, are believed to have a moral obligation to obey this ruling class’s arbitrary commands called “laws”. Understanding that such a system is entirely based in behaviour that is coercive, violent and immoral and conducted to bring human behaviour into compliance with the will of a dominating ruling class we can arrive at the unwavering truth that the term “government” is simply a euphemism for slavery – and that is what the human condition truly is: slavery.
Slavery exists when certain individuals make a claim upon the body or the fruits of the labour of others, making them subject to them by violent and coercive means.
Slavery can exist in covert form where mental manipulation is used to legitimize or justify the duress, coercion, and violence that is used to perpetuate the immoral conditions in which people are unjustly kept.
This immoral human condition is maintained by the occult ruling class by manipulating people into a state of ignorance and confusion regarding the actual difference between right and wrong.
What is moral in one place and time is moral at all places and times.
The knowledge of this objective difference between right and wrong behaviour is called “conscience”… The problem is that most people do not possess this knowledge, or they are extremely confused regarding it. To behave with right action is moral, and to behave with wrong action is immoral, yet this fundamental understanding is often grossly misunderstood. People do not get to decide what morality is. Morality is based upon whether an action initiates harm or not. This dynamic exists inherently in the natural world.
The inherent rights of human beings are their inalienable universal birthright and can never be granted or removed by any action or process of mankind. Our rights come from nature, meaning they are pre-existing and inherent to creation itself.
The law of freedom governs the states of freedom or slavery of entire populations of beings who possess the capacity to comprehend the objective difference between moral behaviour and immoral behaviour. The natural law of freedom dictates that, as a society collectively becomes more moral they collectively become more free, and as a society collectively becomes more immoral they collectively lose their freedom and become more enslaved.
Therefore human freedom is entirely dependent upon educated judgments that align with natural-law-based morality – the objective knowledge of the difference between right behaviour and wrong behaviour.
Believe it or not, you have just been given the secret of secrets of all secret societies throughout human history.
True freedom can never exist in a society that embraces moral relativism, a society where people believe there is no objective difference between right and wrong behaviour. Knowing the difference between right and wrong and then willfully choosing right action over wrong action is the foundational basis for the manifestation of the condition of freedom.
Wrongful action can never create goodness and harmony, and right action can never constitute a violation of rights. 2+2 will never equal 5.
All living beings are endowed with self-ownership as an inherent birthright and therefore possess the natural right to exercise their own free will to live in sovereignty, free from the initiation of harm or coercion by other human beings. These principles of human freedom and rights are the very basis of morality and are governed by the spiritual laws of behavioural consequence. Any and all violations of these principles are wrongdoings, chaotic actions working in direct opposition to the generative self-ordering dynamics of natural law as designed by creation itself.
Considering the Basis for and Purpose of Another Nuremberg
Explaining the findings of the German Corona Investigative Committee regarding the so-called Covid-19 pandemic, attorney-at-law Dr. Reiner Fuellmich, in October 2020, spoke of “crimes against humanity“. The filmed statement has been shared widely and was watched millions of times. At the same time, there were first demands in the resistance movement for “another Nuremberg”, a tribunal that would legally investigate the Corona complex. A first articlein February 2021 told the story how I myself arrived at the conclusion that such a tribunal is badly needed. This second article deals with preconditions and possible objectives of such trials.
Early in 2021, the call for a comprehensive legal reappraisal of the injustices of the Corona régime became increasingly audible. One driver was of course the enormous extent of the “collateral damage” of the measures to contain the alleged pandemic. Another source for the demands was the hard-headed refusal of decision makers to take seriously indications of the complete disproportionality of their actions. The request to take note of alternative opinions and expert reports was and to this day still is answered with a constantly intensifying volley of measures, with unjustified defamation against dissenters and persistent silence about differing information. In those few trials in which judges around the world have ruled on pandemic facts rather than administrative correctness it has turned out time and again that the governments’ files contained no documentation of factual evidence. At the same time, indications are mounting that the adverse consequences of the measures were consciously accepted, and in some cases must even have been the actual goal of administrative decisions. Critics of the Corona régime have pointed to the structural similarities to the emergence of totalitarian societies, especially of course during the transition from the Weimar Republic to the Third Reich. That some kind of denazification as well as “another Nuremberg” is needed to put a society gone rogue back in its place quickly seems almost obvious. Numerous furious comments on internet platforms demanding the harshest punishments for perpetrators and intellectual arsonists testify to this.
On the question of necessity
For its illegal, unconstitutional and destructive measures the Corona state – more precisely, its agents – must be called to account before a special court; thorough reappraisal is necessary for a number of reasons, legal and other.
Firstly, the Corona complex is about crimes that occurred in lockstep worldwide; they affected billions of people in a similar way. We faced – and still face – the systematic breach of fundamental moral, legal, professional and conduct norms. Therefore, there must also be a systematic analysis that looks into the question of how it could come to this and by which factors, structures and actors this onslaught of harm was triggered and fuelled. How was it possible for all government agencies, parliaments, administrations, courts, associations, institutions, organisations, corporations and media in large parts of the world to be brought into line? How could the collective psychosis develop? How could the inhumane measures have been tolerated or supported or even actively enforced by the majority of the population? Which participants acted deliberately, and who acted indifferently or negligently, and for what reasons?
Secondly, the tribunals are necessary for practical reasons because individual sentences on a mere case-to-case basis would generate a labyrinth of contradictory legal decisions that would shroud the causes and mechanisms in twilight rather than shine a spotlight on them. Due to their high number, the proceedings would drag on for several decades; many of the aggrieved would pass before the verdict was pronounced, and some would fail to get through with their complaints. The timely clarification of historical events and the legal assessment through landmark judgments can help the law to prevail while it is still relevant to the victims.
Thirdly, the tribunals are of course a matter of justice. This includes the recognition of the damage that has been done. The suffering of the victims of measures becomes public. Getting heard plays a crucial role in justice perception, and this in turn allows the victims to let go of negative feelings; one becomes free to heal one’s psychological trauma and seek reconciliation with the perpetrators. As I have written elsewhere, I consider this to be one of the central arguments for “another Nuremberg”, because it was only because of the unprocessed psychological traumas of earlier catastrophes – Wars, Imperialism, Slavery, Industrialism, “Development”, Ecocide – that the world once again sank into wholesale barbarism. Justice also requires that the perpetrators be confronted with the victims so that they have the opportunity to become aware of their personal responsibility for what happened. This is often enough neglected, on the one hand because the perpetrators usually refuse to accept it, and on the other hand because trials are often brought for the purpose of deterrence and retribution only.
Schopenhauer once said: “To forgive and forget is to throw precious experience out the window.” So should one never forgive? That would be neither wise nor humane. At the latest when those who have acted show insight into the consequences of their actions and when they seek to make amends, it is advisable to let go of the pain inflicted. But we should not forget, either personally or socially, because it goes without saying that valuable life lessons must not be lost. The enormity of the Corona complex therefore deserves – fourthly – a memorial. A sign must be set that we are determined to learn lessons from history. This historical phase must be given a special marker in the collective consciousness that will have a positive impact beyond the generation concerned. Humanity is currently going through an apocalyptic crisis, the successful overcoming of which the tribunals will stand for as boundary markers and monuments. A new era is beginning, a new form of society is dawning on the horizon. Understanding the deeper causes of the crisis will be of enormous importance in building a more humane way of life. The very way in which the tribunals are conducted and the outcomes they produce could set an example for our future togetherness.
Therefore, “another Nuremberg” cannot be primarily about punishment. I believe, given deeply held humanist and spiritual values in much of the resistance movement, that we will not go for death sentences or public executions, even. This would only add another traumatic wound to the nightmare already experienced. Instead, the tribunals should serve the primary purpose of restoring justice and peaceful coexistence. Perpetrators, victims, applauders, acquiescents, silent onlookers and those somewhere in between can use the insights gained with the help of psychologists, sociologists, historians, economists, medical experts and so on to gain understanding of each other’s motives. The new state must promote personal, national and international reconciliation through various programmes; it must give every individual the opportunity to learn conflict management strategies, awareness and techniques for handling uncomfortable feelings or information. Still, perpetrators have to be liable with all their assets, lose their unlawful privileges and must be stripped of their decision-making power over people. Only where perpetrators refuse to restore peace with their victims arises the need for their removal from society through appropriate means, such as imprisonment or banishment.
Would the trials take place in Nuremberg again? If they are so different in focus, scope and purpose from the war crimes trials of the 1940s, why evoke this historical setting?
It is questionable whether the city of Nuremberg can provide the appropriate setting that such an elaborate undertaking requires. Probably one would conduct several series of negotiations in different places all over the world, separated according to problem areas, levels of responsibility and cultural aspects of the Corona complex, and one will probably coin a new name for it. Preliminarily, however, the word “Nuremberg” is a suitably short term for communicating the idea of having a tribunal that is investigating crimes of unheard-of proportions. Now and then, an ideologically hypnotised majority of the population supported unlawful government action that has claimed the lives of many millions of people and ruined the lives of countless others; it is not quite impossible that the same currents and circles of people are behind it, i.e. that there is continuity with the crimes of the twentieth century, as Holocaust survivor Vera Sharav, for example, believes.
Does recourse to historical events of the 1930s and 40s trivialise Nazi crimes? Some are of this opinion, but I myself believe that no inadmissible identity is being claimed here. The crimes of the Third Reich and its collaborators were unique in their historical dimension. The Corona crimes are not to be equated with them, because they have their own character and context. However, in my view, the reappraisal will undoubtedly make the structural parallels of both events visible and adequately acknowledge the suffering of those affected. The documentation of the Corona complex might help to prevent future generations from making similar mistakes. Numerous Jews, for example, pointed out that Holocaust remembrance must above all help preventing the beginnings of another genocide. For decades it was “Never Again!” Well, if we are to succeed with stopping the train to Auschwitz, “Never Again” has arrived. It took eight years for the targeted discrimination against Jews to culminate in systematic extermination. Comparisons are not equations, they are the necessary juxtaposition of events, in this case for the purpose of keeping history from repeating itself.
While the first Nuremberg Trials could not prevent the re-emergence of a totalitarian regime – more comprehensive and profound even than its fascist predecessor – they have been the inspiration for a far greater, quicker and more determined resistance movement as compared to the 1930s. We do not yet know whether the tide can be turned in time, but the day will come when the régime collapses. We’d better prepare for it.
Is there a sufficient data basis?
The documentation of the crimes around the Corona complex is especially important to the German resistance. Since July 2020, the Stiftung Corona-Ausschuss (Corona Investigative Committee Foundation) is working on establishing the factual basis for the pandemic and the measures implemented to combat it. Another initiative called Corona Cases has recently started to collect relevant judgments and legal opinions. Corresponding lawsuits are sometimes deliberately initiated by lawyers in order to have core questions of the critics of the measures clarified or to highlight weaknesses in the current functioning of society. At the beginning of December 2021, a Centre for Reappraisal, Clarification, Legal Prosecution and Prevention of Crimes against Humanity Based on the Corona Measures (ZAAVV) was founded as a necessary main pillar for collecting evidence that can be used in court. They will not run out of work for a long time. The number of publicly accessible materials alone is incredibly large. The film testimonies of victims of the measures, for example, probably count in the tens of thousands already. Tragically, the mounting “collateral” goes unnoticed by large sections of a population which clings frantically to the story of a new kind of killer virus.
Is there a legal basis?
Lawyers will be able to provide far more in-depth answers about the legal basis of Corona tribunals than could be discussed in a cursory examination like mine. Nevertheless, several noteworthy points stick out.
As already mentioned, obvious fundamental violations of laws and national constitutions have been committed by numerous actors, ranging from false statements about a drug, incitement, corruption, profiteering, medical malpractice, abuse of office, obstruction of justice and bending of the law to dehumanizing treatment, deprivation of liberty, child abuse and homicide. Criminal and civil law, as well as state and national constitutions, already provide sufficient basis to initiate investigations in all countries.
The Nuremberg Trials themselves provide the precedent for a tribunal of international stature. They also created – at the time – new law, first and foremost the Nuremberg Code, the worldwide ethical standard for medical experiments, which emerged from the medical trials. A whole series of other international treaties resulting from the experiences of the 1930s and 1940s would have to be directly applicable, including the United Nations Charter. The UN, for all the criticism that can be levelled at its role in undermining our communities, also holds relevant norms such as the Convention against Torture, or the Convention on the Rights of Children. Whereas in the 1940s, international ethical regulations existed only with regard to war crimes and breaches of treaties, meaning that Allied judges had to retroactively declare obeying immoral orders unlawful, most of the ethical norms relevant to the Corona complex have long since been transformed into applicable law in most countries. In Germany, for example, there is a duty for state employees, such as teachers, police officers and soldiers, to refuse unconstitutional orders. The Constitution itself, Article 20.4 enshrines a general right to resistance when the democratic order as a whole is in danger:
In the absence of other means, all Germans have the right to resist anyone attempting to do away with this [constitutional] order.
So the judges of the Corona tribunals do not need to refer to some fictitious universal morality, which the perpetrators would not share anyway; they can judge on the basis of existing law that applied at the time of the crime. Therefore the perpetrators cannot plead ignorance, they cannot claim that they simply followed orders and they could in principle be held accountable in any country in the world.
Since the considerations of having “another Nuremberg” already arrived in places outside lawyers’ forums – some take tribunals almost for granted – it seems to me that the time has come to discuss the idea publicly and, if necessary, to flesh it out. If it’s just a matter of settling accounts with the regime, there’s no need to go to great lengths. Kangaroos can’t make mistakes. However, a unique opportunity opens up here to use the instrument of the tribunal for the improved reconstruction of our societies. The “Nuremberg” reference may seem exaggerated or inappropriate; admittedly. But it is the most memorable term at the moment for addressing the necessary reappraisal of the Corona complex.
Of course, in a short essay like this, no conclusive recommendations can be made and certainly not all questions can be answered. For example, it must remain open how to seize hold of the perpetrators, who the judges will be, whether juries will be involved, in which places the sessions will be held and who should decide on all these things in the first place. As a very general recommendation it might be good advice to seek broad international consensus, including from non-lawyers. Principles of humanism and compassion would have to be the benchmark from the beginning.
[Title image: The Nuremberg Palace of Justice at the time of the Tribunals, 1945-46; US Army photograph, public domain]
haGalil, a German webzine on Jewish life, announced a demonstrative performance “under strictest observance of the mandatory Corona protective measures, including the testing of the participants” and “in close consultation with the appropriate authorities.” And thus, three days later, a spooky scene presented itself on May 9th 2021, the 100th anniversary of Sophie Scholl’s birthday, to onlookers at Munich’s Königsplatz (The King’s Square) as well as the viewers of a live video stream.
A definition of cognitive dissonance
At a distance of about twenty meters from the visitors, Dr. Hildegard Kronawitter, the managing director of the Weiße Rose Stiftung (White Rose Foundation Germany), was giving her emotionless opening speech by reading from her notes. She explains that she wishes the actors much joy at the performance and that Sophie Scholl may accompany them in their everyday lives. She thanks “the audience which has shown up in exactly the numbers permitted” by the authorities. Then she proceeds with reading a short welcoming speech from Munich’s mayor Dieter Reiter who couldn’t participate personally “because the conditions to be observed under Corona made that impossible for him.” His text honoured the theatrical artists’ upcoming performance as “a living monument” for Sophie Scholl whose actions “have broken the Nazis’ claim for monopoly over public opinion.” He proclaims that “Remembrance today means that we stay vigilant and do not remain silent when people get affronted, ostracized or attacked on confronting cheap propaganda” and closes his address by emphasizing how “fundamentally important it is to stand up for freedom, peace and justice – every day, and in every situation.” So far, so good. But then…
What follows would have been a bizarre sight even before 2020. One hundred young people come walking through the side gates of the Propylaea, a monumental arch in Greek classicist style. They are dressed in black pants, bright red shirts and … dark FFP masks. A few years ago one would have correctly guessed that those masks were symbols for abolished freedom of speech; today you’ll be cut short by the managing director of the White Rose Foundation if you assert as much. The youth march to their positions in front of the gate, exactly two meters apart from each neighbour, where, for about forty minutes, to the sound of Scholl quotes, they go through their theatrical motions without moving much from their places.
It is not up to me to judge the performance which has surely been given with the best intentions and in a spirit of devotion by the students, but as I said already, the scene felt utterly spooky and bizarre when seen in the light of the occasion, the celebration of a young woman who has been killed for committing simple acts of non-conformity to government orders. Set to the recitation of her demand for freedom a group of one hundred students – “under strictest observance of the mandatory Corona protective measures” and “in close consultation with the appropriate authorities” – through their large-scale demonstration of obedience make a nonsense of the very matter to be celebrated: an individual’s decision to follow her conscience even under the threat of death. If you need a definition of cognitive dissonance, here it is. And if you ask me whether it is justified to quote the words of Sophie Scholl, Anne Frank, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer in defiance of their second slaughtering by contemporary bureaucrats, be blessed.
Civilization and violence
In a certain way each era has us living in unprecedented times – times which have never before unfolded like these. It lies in the nature of our linear view of history, but more so it lies in the nature of the subject of history, civilization, a culture in eternal making-over. As civilization amasses lands, people, stuff, knowledge, it grows constantly bigger until it eventually reaches its peak, the maximally achievable size and power, before it collapses into a heap – the end of history. Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian and social critic, in a typical misconception of the civilized philosopher stated that,
“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun,” [Niebuhr, Beyond Tragedy, 1937, p39]
The thing that Niebuhr almost touched without noticing is that the apparent peak of civilization is not only a turning point but the most intense illusion of grandeur. What he, like most everyone I know, overlooks is the fact that the great architecture, the nicely chiseled rhetoric, the elaborate theories, the astounding technologies, the dolce vita and the fantastic wealth of civilized culture have at their basis the rape of peoples and lands. Violence, in other words, is not the exception to the supposedly lawful order of civilized culture – it makes up its very foundation. So we lie to ourselves when we think that violence is uncivilized, a typical characteristic of “primitive underdeveloped” people(s). We lie to ourselves when we think that we could keep violence in check. We lie to ourselves when we think that “best practices”, “progress”, and well-chosen leaders were able to overcome the predicament. At the apex of civilization, violence immerses everything, penetrates all places, and is baked into the morals, the knowledge, the technology, the law, the religion, the arts, and even the most ordinary rituals of everyday life. To say that violence got institutionally established – which it is – does not sufficiently describe its seat, its role, and its effect within our societies.
This becomes increasingly highlighted by the tyranny whose grip for power, for the first time in all history, does not radiate from one centre. It does not rally around one leader. Those who seem to take decisions are so obviously puppets that we cannot attribute full responsibility to them. Though they are guilty as shame for issuing inhumane unconstitutional orders they cannot be mistaken for the source of the global all-pervasive violence which is wrecking the illusion of the supposedly benevolent culture. No longer may we point to a Führer who verbatim took all responsibility on his shoulders. Violence has become a background radiation emanating from countless sources.
As I pointed out repeated times, and as it should be quite obvious prima facie, every single state, national and public institution or organization in India and most of Europe – the regions I have an overview on — has been turned into a zombie of the new régime. Among the most efficient of the numerous techniques applied to this effect are 1, the appointment of outsiders into leading positions – a non-police as head of police, a non-journalist as editor or publisher, a non-politician as minister, a non-physician as chairman of the board of the medical association etc –, 2, a strictly hierarchical culture of obedience, 3, the induction of fear of an elusive source of danger, 4, financial incentives, 5, misinformation, secrecy and censorship, and 6, social control and mass-psychological manipulation.
The technical term for this process in the German language is Gleichschaltung. Introduced by the Nazis in 1933, The technical term for this process of zombification is Gleichschaltung. Introduced by Germany’s National Socialists in 1933,its literal meaning is the simultaneous directed switching-over, the result of which is social synchronization among all public, economic and private entities within a country, to achieve a declared purpose. Neither the origin nor the intent of Gleichschaltung – whether you call it by that name or not – have anything to do with democracy, even as the parliaments castrate themselves and many of the institutions and organizations seem to spontaneously fall into lockstep all by themselves.
The moral collapse of respectable society
Some people object to the use of such terms (or any statements at all from that time, for that matter) in today’s context because these supposedly refer to specific events in the thirties and forties of the last century, while today’s societies – on the level of declarations – seem to differ tremendously from back then. Let’s take Frau Kronawitter, the above-mentioned managing director of the Weiße Rose Stiftung, as an example again. In November 2020 she said that her institute “disfavours” the use of Sophie Scholl quotes by the “Corona opposers”. The White Rose members had rebelled against a dictatorship which oppressed opinions and persecuted dissenters brutally whereas today, she said, the rule of law guaranteed free speech and the right to demonstrate.
You have to be quite blind – or biased – to not see the brutal physical and verbal violence against the peacefully acting dissenters of today, dissenters against an already established authoritarian régime under which oppositional views no longer reach the general public through ordinary, established channels. Being ignorant of the atrocities committed by the system, said Hitler’s secretary Traudl Junge, is no excuse, though, for there are always means to acquire knowledge through means outside the official framework. Sophie Scholl who has been beheaded around the time Traudl Junge joined Hitler as a secretary, might have agreed, I guess. At her trial before the Volksgerichtshof (the NS supreme court) she said to Roland Freisler, “Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don’t dare express themselves as we did.” In another quote attributed to her she stated,
“The real damage is done by those millions who want to ‘survive.’ The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves—or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature.
Frau Kronawitter is not one of “those with no sides and no causes.” Even as she disagrees with the critics of the corona measures, her position – as a guardian of the memory of historical resistors to tyranny – might rather have obliged her to give those who quote from Scholl’s legacy at least the benefit of the doubt. ‘I understand the outrage,’ she could have told the journalists, ‘but I believe that we are far from the kind of situation the members of the White Rose found themselves in.’ Instead, in denial of the writings on the wall, she uttered the words abuse and absurd to denounce the protesters’ concerns. To my ears, it’s her own words that sound grotesque, not only in the face of the current situation but also with relation to the declared goal of the Weiße Rose Stiftung: At the end of the closing credits to the film Sophie Scholl, The Final Days (2005) it says that the foundation “informs relentlessly … on civil courage and resistance – even today.” In other words, keeping the memory of historical lessons alive is an ongoing task that requires vigilance with regards to wolves in sheep’s clothing. Early warnings need to be taken seriously, and active resistance should set in before it becomes a suicide mission. Yet obviously, like so many other leading figures in the memorial business, in music, literature, politics, science, medicine, philosophy and leftist circles, Kronawitter fell for (or instrumentalizes) literalism which means she cannot concede that under the shallow surface of differing phenomena the same old patterns drive the same old game for power toward the same old goal. But their literal understanding of what the assertions of the oppressors and the statements of their adversaries mean from a broader perspective is outdated since at least the 1960s.
Lessons from history
Ever since people wondered what had befallen humankind during Europe’s totalitarian period, historians, philosophers, psychologists, and sociologists have been using the actual terminology of that time in a more general sense to describe the phenomenology and mechanisms among groups of people and whole societies sliding into barbarism – or hyper-civilization, I should say. History does not repeat itself; it does rhyme quite regularly though. In other words, the lessons of history speak of active patterns, not of identical actors or events. Hannah Arendt as one of the better-known, well-received socio-historical analysts, dedicated her life’s work to finding the patterns underlying the fascist state. In her speech on Personal Responsibility Under a Dictatorship (1964), she made the conditions we live under remarkably well discernible:
“Totalitarian society, as distinguished from totalitarian government, is indeed monolithic; all public manifestations, cultural, artistic, or learned, and all organizations, welfare and social services, even sports and entertainment, are “coordinated.” There is no office and indeed no job of any public significance, from advertising agencies to the judiciary, from play-acting to sports journalism, from primary and secondary schooling to the universities and learned societies, in which an unequivocal acceptance of the ruling principles is not demanded.”
Most of today’s governments work in open breach of their democratic constitutions; yet so far they act merely authoritarian, not totalitarian. It is society itself – following impulses from its executive branch – that has slipped into totalitarianism, with all its elements “coordinated”, streamlined, lockstepped, gleichgeschaltet. If you don’t wear a mask you cannot enter the shop. If you don’t test negative you cannot enter the classroom. If you don’t vaccinate you cannot go to work, or to concert, and you cannot cross the border. If you kiss your friend or have a birthday party or publicly read from the constitution you get arrested. If you outspokenly disagree with the official health paradigm your publisher rejects your book or record, your chief editor refuses to print your article, your bank cancels your account, your internet provider drops you, your boss fires you, your landlord boots you out, your social-media hangouts silence or de-platform you, and your friends stop speaking to you. Hannah Arendt, in her effort to understand what had happened eighty-five years earlier to herself, described the same “incredible ease with which lifelong friendships were broken and discarded.” At the root of the phenomenon there was “fear-inspired hypocrisy”, she explained, but also an “early eagerness not to miss the train of history … among a great majority of public figures in all walks of life and all ramifications of culture” (ibid.), just as we can observe today. And there was a righteousness in them that defied all reason, all empathy, and persisted beyond the collapse of the violence-enforced lies as became overt in the post-war trials.
But even those who drifted along for fear of sanctions or who thought they were somehow choosing the lesser evil washed their hands of all responsibility. They felt that, as cogs in a machine, as functionaries of a system, they had no power over its atrocious deeds whatsoever. Nevertheless – according to Arendt – they have been and remained human beings which could and should be held accountable for their participation in the events, because they always had a choice. “All governments rest on consent,” she quotes US founding father Madison, and added that the fallacy rested in mistaking consent for obedience. Therefore the correct question to be put before the followers in a tyranny was not, ‘Why did you obey?’ but ‘Why did you support?’ (This is also part of the spiritual practice of taking responsibility for one’s life; instead of telling oneself, ‘I have to go to work’ one concedes ‘I choose to go to work.’) “Monsters exist,” says Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, “but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are the common men, the functionaries ready to believe and to act without asking questions.” [The New Republic, Feb 17, 1986]
Making a difference
Hannah Arendt tried to find an answer to the most fundamental question in which way the system’s supporters and the non-collaborators differed. She concluded that the non-collaborators, “called irresponsible by the majority, were the only ones who dared judge by themselves.” They carefully decided on the limits of how far they could go and still look in the mirror, and even under force would prefer to die rather than step beyond those limits. The others, though, the system’s supporters would cling to established rules which were hijacked by those in power:
“The total moral collapse of respectable society during the Hitler regime may teach us that under such circumstances those who cherish values and hold fast to moral norms and standards are not reliable … Much more reliable will be the doubters and skeptics, not because skepticism is good or doubting wholesome, but because they are used to examine things and to make up their own minds. Best of all will be those who know only one thing for certain: that whatever else happens, as long as we live we shall have to live together with ourselves,”
writes Arendt (ibid.), whereby she points to a generalization to be derived from the experience collected under the Nazi régime. As unique as the extent and the particular forms of evil under that specific tyranny may seem, underneath lay psychological and behavioral patterns which can be traced across all of civilization throughout all of world history, and they came to the foreground, again, in March 2020, clearly visible to anyone with open eyes or sensitive guts. If the Holocaust memorials, the war tribunals and the public commemoration days ought to have any meaning in today’s world beyond simple sorriness for irrecoverable losses, if the legacy of the Scholl siblings tells us anything at all, it is this one word: Beware!